a prospective client comes to me very gung ho about getting publicity and
declares that they envision coverage in every major newspaper in the
country and on every network broadcast. After all, their logic runs, our
product is something everyone uses -- we have close to 150 million
customers a year in the U.S. alone.
"Whoa!" I reply. "That's not enough of a reason for the
media to do a story. Nearly everyone uses a toothbrush and a wallet of one
sort or another, but how often do you see stories about either of those
items in the papers or on the nightly news? Prevalent doesn't mean
interesting or timely. So let's brainstorm about what would entice the
media to consider something about your item newsworthy."
By putting a spin on something ordinary, or identifying some unusual
aspect of something ordinary, you have a good chance of getting major
media hits. For instance:
Create a controversy.
E.g., claim that 90% of Americans use each toothbrush far too long.
Give an award. E.g., a
prize for the world's rattiest wallet.
Offer surprising facts
about your product. E.g., how long ago people were using toothbrushes
surprising similar to today's.
Show an unexpected
clientele using your product. E.g., wallets for toddlers or for
Piggyback on the news.
E.g., play up the connection if there's a toothbrush scene in a new
feature film or a popular sit-com.
Do a survey. E.g., what
percentage of people never leave the house for any purpose without
bringing their wallet.
Compile a set of useful
tips. E.g., ten ways you should never use a toothbrush.
Donate your product or a
gift certificate to a good cause. E.g., a new wallet for every high
school graduate in your home town.
Offer a freebie. E.g., a
free call-in line for questions about dental hygiene.
Invent a new use for your
product. E.g., wallets designed for efficiency at security
Tie your product to
economic trends. E.g., what toothbrush sales reveal about recessions
and economic booms.
anachronistic. E.g., create wallet carriers, which a butler can hold
out for the man in the house when he comes home from work.
Sponsor a charity event.
E.g., the Toothbrush Ball.
Do something about your
environmental impact. E.g., recyclable wallets.
Celebrate an anniversary.
E.g., your 10 millionth toothbrush sold.
variations. E.g., the Tall Texan wallet, the Seattle Surprise, the
Get offbeat endorsements.
E.g., from a punk rocker, a bartender, a has-been politician for your
Feature employees with
stories. E.g., an over-80 wallet designer, marketing vice-presidents
who are twins.
Run an event for kids.
E.g., develop a show that travels to day-care centers on how to brush
Once you have a newsworthy
angle, then the ambition to get your story into every household in the
country makes more sense!
Yudkin is the author of the newly updated
classic guide, 6 Steps to Free Publicity (Career Press),
and 10 other books. She has helped clients achieve publicity
everywhere from the Wall Street Journal to the National
from the Today Show to local news broadcasts, and she herself
has been featured in Success Magazine, Entrepreneur,
Home Office Computing, Working Woman, scores of major
newspapers all over the U.S. and four times in the
Sunday Boston Globe. She performs press release
makeovers and other publicity services through
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