by Tom Rankin, APR
President, Thomas Rankin Associates

How did you feel the last time you saw one of your major competitors written up in a leading trade magazine article? Be honest now. It burned a little bit, didn't it? You were mad that he got mentioned and not you. After all your products are better, aren't they? Why him and not you? On the other hand, the last time you got press it was perfectly justified, wasn't it? Of course, the editor didn't fully understand all the ramifications of your technology, but at least you got some of the credit you deserved. And it did get noticed, didn't it?

The point is, positive news coverage is good for business. You know it and your competitor knows it. The question is, how can you get it to happen more often? The answer is simple: Getting good press means making good press. It means putting some usable copy and a nice photo into an editor's hands. Trade editors are voracious consumers of usable information. They have a magazine to fill up each and every month; a big magazine, from their point of view, for which there are usually far too few people to write. So while editors must be concerned with what's really new and really of value in their particular corner of the industrial universe, they also have to face a real page count and meet real deadlines.

All of which is good news for you, because it means that if you can supply editors with a regular flow of the kinds of information they need, there's a good chance they will use it-- whether or not you come up with a new product every month, and whether or not what you claim is state-of-the-art, newest of the new, leading edge, crest of the wave, or the latest breakthrough kind of stuff. In plain fact, if you want it, you can probably get news coverage on that brochure you printed two years ago and have been trying to unload ever since so you can update it. And you can get more news coverage on the new one.

Here are ten subjects you can write about again, and again, and again, and get news coverage on from now until you retire. Then you can pass them on to your successor and be forever thought of as a great publicity guru:

1) Products--They don't have to be new, they don't have to be of seismic significance, and you don't have to write a doctoral dissertation to get their picture in the paper. Enhanced, redesigned, updated, expanded, special features or lines of products are all grist for the mill, as are specific market applications.

2) Literature--As noted above, the new, the old and the ugly all are fair game. Just be sure to include a hard copy or pdf of the piece with the release (rather than a photo) and avoid sending to books that cover literature as paid advertising.

3) Contracts--Close a big deal lately? Why not make a big deal of it? Nothing breeds success like success. And contracts make good news. So promote them whenever possible.

4) Acquisitions--Same here. Chances are you're not buying a new plant because business is too bad to fill the old one. You're buying because business is good. And it's good because you are. Promote it.

5) Key personnel--New people connote growth, and growth implies success. Announcing key executive appointments does more than make insurance guys call: it builds image and recognition.

6) Show participation--Even people who do not go to shows read show issues: pre-show issues, and post-show. Get in there with a picture of your lead product, and you'll not only increase booth traffic, you'll help maximize show-related lead production and help justify your show investment.

7) Executive Statements--Here's a riddle for you: who are the most influential people in any industry. The people who are quoted in the press all the time, right? And where do you think the press gets all those quotes? Now you're getting the idea! Sit your key honcho down and tape record his thoughts on various issues affecting your industry. Use them as fodder and you'll be surprised at the good news you can make.

8) Applications--Your products help solve customer problems. Otherwise, they wouldn't buy them. Well, problem solving is also newsworthy. A brief release and photo describing an interesting application can generate lots of ink, and lots of very good leads.

9) Research and Technology--From agreements to patents to future-casting, technology makes news. It also makes you look like what you are: a leading edge innovator in your industry.

10) Trends--Everyone wants to know what's going to happen next and which way the wind is going to blow. What do you have that serves as an indicator for your industry? Customers buying full featured options? Is automation taking over production? E-commerce replacing your sales force? Whatever they are, indicators are probably there and you can help the wind blow more in your favor by publicizing them

©2004 Thomas Rankin Associates

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Recent Articles by Tom Rankin

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How to Make an Apples to Apples Comparison of PR and MarCom Services.

Ten Ways to Make News
(and help sell your products).

PR and Propaganda: on the Ethics of Truth

Zen and the Art of PR:
Image Building as a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy.

Marketing PR in the Life Sciences:
A Primer


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