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Six Steps to Free Publicity


Step Six: Utilize Electronic Channels Too


Now that you've created and used a press release, get more mileage from it by adapting for the online services. If you've made a list of tips, like my sample, or written up an announcement that reads like news, you can modify it for posting to the commercial online services, like CompuServe, America Online and Delphi.

First, avoid running afoul of "no solicitation" rules by deleting any reference to prices. Second, remove the top two lines and the dateline, and add a byline to make your piece look like an article rather than a press release. Here's exactly how I modified the sample press release in Chapter 2 for posting to CompuServe. Notice also that I added more biographical information and my CompuServe ID #.


CREATIVE PUBLICITY IDEAS PAY OFF

by Marcia Yudkin, Ph.D.

Entrepreneurs, professionals and any company that offers a service or product can spend a ton of money on advertising -- or they can spend time thinking up an approach that will entice the media to spread the word for them for free. Radio, TV, magazines and newspapers hunger for items that will provide useful or entertaining information for their listeners, viewers or readers. According to Boston-based writing consultant Marcia Yudkin, Ph.D., you can get your fifteen minutes of fame -- along with new customers or clients -- by describing to the media something you've done that's innovative, funny or evokes human interest.

Here are eight ways to win free media publicity, from Marcia Yudkin, author of SIX STEPS TO FREE PUBLICITY (Plume Books).

  1. Concoct an interesting characterization of yourself (Rick Davis of Temple, NH, created "The Institute of Totally Useless Skills")

  2. Present your ordinary program or service to an unexpected clientele (prisoners, kids)

  3. Piggyback on the news or current entertainment (In the summer of 1993, anything about dinosaurs appeared timely)

  4. Agree or disagree with newspaper columnists by writing them (Many use or mention their mail in their column)

  5. Conduct business in an unusual setting (Hold your awards dinner at the zoo; conduct board meetings in the mail room)

  6. Break a record (The Guinness Book of World Records sells 1 million copies a year)

  7. Do something anachronistic (make house calls; answer your own phone; bring back glass bottles)

  8. Take the lead in complying with new legislation (e.g., the Americans with Disabilities Act)

The complete report, "66 Ways to Make You or Your Business Newsworthy," from which the above is excerpted, is available for a nominal fee from Marcia Yudkin, Ph.D., P.O. Box 1310, Boston, MA 02117, CIS 75200,1163 (She is a regular in the WORK, SMALLBIZ and PRSIG forums); phone 617-266-1613.

Marcia Yudkin is the author of SIX STEPS TO FREE PUBLICITY (Plume Books 1994); FREELANCE WRITING: BREAKING IN WITHOUT SELLING OUT (HarperCollins 1988); and publisher of the newsletter, THE CREATIVE GLOW: HOW TO BE MORE ORIGINAL, INSPIRED & PRODUCTIVE IN YOUR WORK.


One of the files I posted on Compuserve was downloaded more than 700 times in the first month, and produced a phone call and order from The Netherlands. Even better, unlike paper press releases, which sooner or later end up in the trash can, electronically posted releases go on spreading your message to potential customers for years to come.

If you don't already subscribe to the commercial online services, go to the bookstore and flip through magazines for PC users or books about the Internet. You should find offers for a free trial month on at least one or two of the services. If you don't own a modem, find a high school or college kid to help you in exchange for credit ("Computer Consulting") on a resume.

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Copyright © 1994 Marcia Yudkin. All rights reserved.

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