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Effective Publicity

Aug 10, 2011 10:35 AM, by Don Kreski

Seven ways to make your PR program more valuable.

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Susan Lewis knows something about publicity that most people don’t. She knows that what you do with an article after it’s published is often more valuable than its original appearance in the publication itself.

“A published article has a shelf life of 30 to 60 days,” Lewis says. “But the handouts we make from those articles help us for at least two or three years.”

Lewis, the CEO of Lewis Sound & Video Professionals of Waukesha, Wis., also believes that a reprint made from a press clipping is far more valuable than a handout or brochure that’s self-generated. “The perception of our clients is if something has been in the media, it’s more objective and it carries more weight.”

One problem with a press placement is that it reaches an audience who may or may not be ready to buy. But hand that same article to a potential client who is making a buying decision, and it can have a very big influence on the sale.

Once you have a published story, there are at least seven ways you should consider using it. Always be cognizant, of course, of who owns the right to reprint the materials. In some cases you will own the copyright for the text and photographs; in other cases, you may have to ask for or purchase the rights to reuse materials (see sidebar).

1. Put the story on your website

Most potential clients go to your website to learn more about you, so including news stories on it can be especially valuable. You may want to:

  • Add links to recently published stories in a prominent place on your home page
  • Add an "In the News" section to your site and include press placements
  • Add links as appropriate to your “Customer Gallery” and other sections of the site.
If you can secure a PDF copy of the article, together with permission to use it, you may find it more attractive to potential readers than a link to the publication’s website, for three reasons:

  • Some publications require a login to access articles, and potential readers may not want to go through the effort to register
  • The PDF layout is often more attractive visually than a web layout.
  • Some publications drop articles from their archives over time, whereas you determine how long a PDF will reside on your own web server.

2. Send a reprint or handout to customers and potential customers

Almost every publication will sell you reprints, either in printed or PDF form (many will give you PDF copies), and in many cases, you have the right to create your own handouts without permission, using your own layout and the text and photos you own.

  • Use printed copies in packets you hand to new customers and prospects
  • Hand out copies at tradeshows
  • Mail or email the story directly to your prospect list, together with a cover letter
  • Use excerpts or short quotes in brochures and catalogs.

3. Send the story with quotes and proposals

It’s very helpful to offer evidence of your ability to do the project you are quoting on, so be sure to include printed copies or PDFs with quote letters in bid packets and formal proposals.

  • Consider building a file of printed reprints or handouts
  • Put PDF copies on your web server, with a single menu for easy access by sales people (and probably clients as well)
  • Encourage (or require) your sales people to include links to the PDF copies with email quotes and attach printed copies to written proposals.

4. Put it in your newsletter

Extend the life and usefulness of a story you’ve placed while, at the same time, adding interest and variety to your customer newsletter.

  • Include excerpts or a brief summary of the article in your newsletter, together with a link to its full text on the publication’s website or your server.

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