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Ask Mark Coker your PR questions

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    scrappyscrappy subscriber Posts: 8
    Mark, 
    Thanks for all the input... I know that took a lot of time and you made some great points.  I`ve forwarded the comments to the wonderful lady who wrote it.  Again, you`ve given me and so many others such valuable information!
    I can`t thank you enough!
    Marcy
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    Laura15SPLaura15SP subscriber Posts: 1
    Mark and Melanie:
    What a GREAT thread!
    I have a question for you. Do you have any hints for coming up with a strong ANGLE for the press release? I`ll give you my specific example. My partner and I created a company in 2002 to help people develop a clever elevator pitch that they can deliver in just 15 Seconds. We call the site 15SecondPitch.com.
    We can think of quite a few angles that might be of interest to people.
    1.) You can post your pitch and search for other people`s pitches on our site so it does have a great social networking component.
    2.) We also created 15SecondPitch business cards that have your pitch and picture on them
    3.) We have a free tool on our site called "The Pitch Wizard" which allows people to create their pitch easily by answering four simple questions
    4.) This tool may be of interest to the VC community, PR community and entertainment community. VC`s get pitched all the time so it would be of benefit to them to educate the "pitchers" to give them the "15SecondPitch" and save everyone a lot of time. Same thing with the PR community. For entertainment, a good pitch is absolutely essential. If you don`t grab their attention in the first 15 seconds, you lose them for good.
    5.) My ultimate goal would be for every person on the planet to feel good and empowered about what he/she does for a living. Having a great pitch, whether you are a janitor or a CEO, is a big part of feeling confident and proud about what you do and sharing that with the world. 
    One of my goals is to empower my clients to take their custom 15SecondPitch boldly into the corporate realm or entrepreneurial realm or Mompreneuer realm and be happy and successful. I`m not sure if that has any P.R. potential, but it`s that desire that keeps me going when things get tough. We also want the P.R. to support our revenue model which at the moment is focused on delivering training sessions to professional orgs, doing private one-on-one training and selling biz cards. In the future we will be selling online training.
    Any thoughts and ideas would be most appreciated!

    laura
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    dovetaildovetail subscriber Posts: 1
    Hi Laura,Sounds like an interesting business.  A few years ago, I wrote something called the Dovetail Tech Publicity Checklist (if you google for it, it`s still out there somewhere), and one of the sections presented a bunch of ideas for press release angles, and then explained how an interesting release on that topic could help establish certain perceptions for your target audience.  Although it was written for tech marketers, the same concepts are just as applicable to a potato chip company as a computer chip company.  While not all of the ideas aren`t directly applicable to your business, I`ll post the list here because some of the ideas might spark ideas for other readers.Numbers 6 and 10 might be most applicable.  #17 I just added now, and that might work for you too.  You could write a release talking about how your service has helped people (a user success story press release), or do a milestone release of signing up your 10,000th user, or whatever.  #12 might also work - you could announce recent enhancements to your service, all of which underscore the benefits you provide to users.The Dovetail Guide to Press Releases - 16 Ideas:There are many reasons to issue a press release.  Whether the news is covered or not depends on the strength of your story and your PR team`s ability to promote it to the media.  Press releases have become more than just a tool for communicating with press and analysts.  They`re also an important tool for communicating with your customers and prospective customers.  Before you issue a press release, ask yourself who your intended audience is and what desires, perceptions or actions you want to incite with that audience.  Once you`ve determined the audience and your press release objectives, you can determine how to promote the release.  For example, you`ll promote some press releases with nationwide press tours or phone pitches and some you`ll just promote on your web site.  Work closely with your PR team and PR agency to decide which stories will be promoted to the media and which will be promoted only on your web site.Potential press release subjects and perception-making benefits include: 1.  Acquisitions - your company is a leader because      it`s a consolidator in your industry 2.  Alliances - your company is judged by the company      it keeps; can attract additional partners 3.  Awards - your company`s products stand head      and shoulders above the rest  4.  Benchmark performance results - your products      perform better/faster/cheaper than competitors 5.  Channel programs - your company makes a good      channel partner 6.  Customer deployments/wins - your company`s      products work, you`re a high-value/low-risk vendor 7.  Government programs - you understand the unique      requirements of the government IT market 8.  International initiatives - your company is      expanding internationally, you`re growing, you      provide worldwide product/service availability      to your customers 9.  Earnings releases - important financial      disclosure medium for public companies.       Even private companies can issue financial      releases to communicate strong performance,      financial strength and growing momentum in      market place10.  Milestones - celebrate your company`s      accomplishments, such as the number of      customers, the 1,000th product sold, etc11.  New personnel - your company is expanding      the depth and breadth of its management12.  New products - you have the solution to your      customer`s pain13.  Patent awards and filings - demonstrates      that you have unique and defensible technology14.  Press conferences - establishes perception      that your news is important.  Make sure it is!15.  Strategy/roadmap unveiling - demonstrates      vision, sets stage for delivering on your      promises and demonstrating your ability to      execute16.  Technology licensing/OEM deals - says your      technology is so good that others are licensing      it17.  Survey results - conduct a survey leveraging your unique knowledge or information.  Establishes your company as a thought leader, and can generate interest in your business or your category.Source:  Dovetail Public Relations (http://www.dovetailpr.com)
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    Laura15SPLaura15SP subscriber Posts: 1
    Thanks, Mark!!
    Turns out we were thinking about doing one of the points you mention above, so your post is giving us additional validation that it is a good idea!! I`ll post the press release for all to see and comment on, when we get it done!!
    I appreciate you taking the time to think about this and post here!

    laura
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    PRProPRPro subscriber Posts: 25
    Hi Mark and Laura,
    Great information from both of you! At this point, there is only one key point I would add to Mark`s note. When developing any kind of press release, it`s important to remember one question in the back of your head - Why is the audience/reporter going to care about this? This will really help you narrow down story ideas and pitches so you can focus on the most important issues to promote.
    Thanks!
    Melanie
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    smillersmiller subscriber Posts: 0
    Hi Mark,
    I hope it`s not too late to ask a question.
    Our company is in development of a new LOB that we plan on launching in Jan. `07. When we started Home Pro SSG, Inc. (we are down the road from you Mark....Branham Lane in San Jose) everything was viral because of the B2B aspect. We are running with five clients and the phone is ringing. The question is the new LOB is a B2C service that is going to revolutionize the 100+billion dollar home improvement industry. We want to first dominate the Greater Bay Area market before we do a national roll out. We do not want to attract too much national attention for fear of competitors entering at an awkward moment for us. But we want to strategically condition the market for our entry. We don`t have PR counsel at this time because of the price but we don`t want to damage our rollout with missteps.
    Any advice?
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    dovetaildovetail subscriber Posts: 1
    Hello, smiller, thanks for your question.Without knowing how truly revolutionary your business is, or your roadmap and timeline for national rollout, it`s difficult for me to answer this question.  But you raise some interesting challenges that many entrepreneurs face:  you`ve got a potentially unique business model that you plan to eventually roll out nationally, but initially it`ll be available only for one local market.  How do you balance the need for promotion and awareness against the risk of tipping off better-funded competitors to your idea?So since I don`t know all the specifics, I`ll try to address your challenge from a more general aspect.  First, most innovative new business models aren`t as unique as we`d like to think they are.  Ideas are cheap.  Execution is often what really matters.You`re targeting the home improvement industry.  This is good that you have a clearly defined target market.  I`m going to make a leap here and assume that although you`re based in San Jose, CA, if you were to get an order from my old hometown of Bedford, NY, you`d be able to fulfill it?  If the answer to that question is yes, then you should probably start thinking now about a national publicity program.  If the answer is no, and you feel like you really do have something unique that could be easily copied, then I might opt for no PR initially in favor of just dealing direct with your target customers.  You`d lose the benefits of widespread publicity and awareness, but you`d protect your idea until you`re ready to deliver on a nationwide basis.Assuming you decide to promote now... With a target market of home improvement, you`ve got several national magazines that you can start promoting to, a couple broadcast cable TV shows that might be interested, some home improvement blogs that might be interested, and you might also want to go after the major daily newspapers in some of the largest metro markets you plan to target, especially if you`re able to fullfill customer requests from there starting early 2007 (if not, hold off on the dailies).Assuming that your business model is unique, it`s important for most business to get out there and plant their stakes in the ground and define the market, and get credit for being first to market or for inventing the category.   You`ll have to weigh this against the downside of opening your Kimono.Good luck with your business, and feel free to ask more questions here!  I`m actually traveling in London now, so please forgive me if I`m a little slow to respond.Best wishes,Mark
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    bsbfan724bsbfan724 subscriber Posts: 0
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    dovetaildovetail subscriber Posts: 1
    Hi Sabrina,
    Congratulations on landing your first client!
    I`ve been in business 13 years this October and now have about 8 employees, and I`ve experimented with nearly every method of new business generation.  The number one generator of new business for my agency is current or past clients.  We`ve got some clients (vps of marketing or CEOs) who`ve been working with us continually for 10 or more years - they take us to each new company they go to work for, because they know they can trust us to do a good job and give them great value for their PR expenditures.  And they recommend us to their peers, so that their peers call us already prequalified and ready to hire us, rather than contacting us as one of 15 agencies in an RFP.  So step one, with that first client you have, you need to satisfy them like there`s no tomorrow, because they`re the most important client you`ll ever have.  You want them to find your firm so strategically important to the success of their business that they`d be foolish to ever stop working with you.  You want them to recommend your firm to their friends.  You want your client contacts there to hire you again when they move to their next company.
    My agency started with one client (Storage Dimensions) 13 years ago, and relationships from that one client account for, directly or indirectly, 40% of our business today.  Relationshps from my second client (McAfee), account for 30-40%.  So bottom line, make that first client your world and the world will beat a path to your door.  Give them great value always, be honest with them 100% of the time, and your ticket is written.
    Other marketing ideas...  Definitely use Google adwords or Yahoo`s Overture for pay-per-click advertising.  Considering how little it costs and the results you`ll get, you`d be nuts not to advertise your business there.
    You didn`t mention how you structure client relationships, but this is one other secret I`d propose... Try to structure your relationships as ongoing relationships with monthly budget targets tied to actual activities and hours spent, as opposed to projects.  That way, you can develop long term relationships with your clients, provide them continuous valuable services, and know that you`ve got reliable cash flow coming in each month.  If you`re just trying to survive project to project, it`s a tough life.
    Beyond that, watch your pennies.  The fastest way to go out of business is to bring in less than you`re spending.  Although it may sound trite, I`m sure seasoned entrepreneurs on this forum would agree.  Here`s a personal example... when I started my agency, I signed a month to month office agreement, as opposed to a long term lease, and I rented all my furniture.  Why?  Because I wanted to limit my expenditures and limit my liabilities.  As my business grew and became established and successful, I bought my furniture and locked in longer term leases.
    Good luck with your business!  Feel free to post additional questions.
    Best wishes,
    Mark
     
     
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    10stepmarketing10stepmarketing subscriber Posts: 1
    I love this topic. PR is one of the easiest, most efffective marketing avenues available to small business owners on a shoestring budget.
    I haven`t seen a mention of PR Web in this thread. PR Web is a great tool for getting your press releases distributed at a very low cost. You can post your releases for free or you can pay as little as $80 for additional distribution.
    I recommend paying for their $80 or $120 package.  You`ll get incredibly deep distribution all across the web and with all the main search engines.  It`s a great way to get links back to your web site and increase your overall web presence.
    They`ve got a press release template you can reference if you`re not sure how to format your release.  And you get reports showing the number of times your release was read, picked up and printed.
    A press release I posted on PR Web for $100 got my business covered in the print edition of Entrepreneur Magazine. So it`s not just online PR. And, you can`t beat that for cost-effective marketing!
    Check it out at http://www.prweb.com</A>
     
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    asapasap subscriber Posts: 1
    Great posts.  I`m in agreement with PRweb.com.  I have used it in the past and it has definately contributed to SEO rankings for the website.  Having the distribution to 100`s or thousands of sites linking back is a great thing.  Also remember to post your PR to your own site if you can!
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    firstniceguyfirstniceguy subscriber Posts: 0
    Hi Mark,
     
    Great to see you providing some key PR insights.  Here`s my situation.  I (and two co-authors) have our first book coming out in July and it is being published by Penguin.  They believe the book will be a huge seller in the biz category and we are entertaining the possibility of signing on with a PR Agency focused on business books.  My question to you is all about the questions...what type of questions would you ask a few PR agencies in order to assess if they are a good fit?  I`ve got a pretty good understanding of PR but have not hired a PR agency in the past. 
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    dovetaildovetail subscriber Posts: 1
    Hi Firstniceguy,
    Congrats on the book deal with Penguin.
    Questions:
    1.  Ask for references of past clients, and speak with those clients.  Do they feel the PR agency made a big difference for them?  Who at the PR agency worked on their project?  Did they get good value?  How did they measure the value?  What were the results?  Would they hire them again?
    2.  Ask the agency how they do their fees.  What can you expect for a given budget?
    3.  Ask the agency for a couple references from book reviewers.  Ask the book reviewers why they enjoy working with the PR agency or the PR person.  You want to hear that they view the PR person as a trusted resource, that the PR person understands their needs and doesn`t waste their time with inappropriate pitches.  If this is the answer you receive, you know that you`ve found a good PR partner.
    4.  Ask the PR agencies for a proposal for your book project.  What process will they follow to pitch your book to reviewers.
    5.  How does the agency deal with bloggers?  Can they point to recent sucesses where they integrated bloggers into a book PR campaign?
    6.  What is their track record with radio tours, press tours and blog tours?
    Good luck!
    Mark
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    PRProPRPro subscriber Posts: 25
    Hi Firstniceguy,
     
    I second a Congrats on your book deal! Mark has some great points. One other thing to keep in mind is that no matter who you hire to help you with PR, you will still need to be involved with your publicity efforts.
     
    By working as a team with your publicist, you`ll be able to provide him/her with your own newsworthy story angles, event ideas, partnership possibilities, and more to help increase sales and awareness. You are the person with the most passion about your products and services, and it`s important to be able to share this passion with media members directly or via your publicist.
     
    All the best!
    Melanie
     
     
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    firstniceguyfirstniceguy subscriber Posts: 0
    Hi Melanie,
     
    Thanks much for the congrats and the great advice.  I feel better prepared to begin our research.
     
    Have a great week.
     
    Regards,
    Russ
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