How can I increase the impact of my print campaign?"Releases are fine for product intros and announcements, but consider full-page placements to tell a story," says Brian Agnes of Family Features Editorial Syndicate. You'll find many editors of midsize newspapers and magazines eager to run quality, sponsored content. And, for a fraction of the cost of advertising, you'll secure front-page section coverage - often in full color.
Agnes offers these tips for successful features: "First, begin production at least three months in advance of the release date, and pay attention to theme selection - it must have general appeal to editors and their audience. If possible, provide localized content for greater relevancy."
Downplay branding, use product claims sparingly, and offer your company as a resource to consumers, he notes. Also, engage readers by solving a problem, leading them to a helpful Web site, or providing a free booklet or offer.
Finally, use high-quality photos. "If you're promoting a food or beverage product, high-quality images showcasing an appetizing recipe are very appealing to editors," Agnes says. For lifestyle features, use appropriate graphics to illustrate and problem-solve. Avoid the use of stock photos.
How do I advise my b-to-b clients as they move online?
"B-to-b companies are just as beholden as those in the business-to-consumer sector to the influence of the digital future," says Robbin Goodman of the online fluency practice at Makovsky & Co. She suggests three principles for advising your b-to-b clients on online communications:
"First," she says, "your clients must think at the 'atomic level.' With its limitless choices, the Internet enables people to gravitate toward the niches that best satisfy their interests. It's a great place to reach an emotionally engaged audience with the messages that matter to them."
Second, clients must "put on their listening ears," Goodman notes. People may already be talking about your client online, and companies must be prepared for negativity. She cautions that "organizations that listen - actively, openly, and without defensiveness - will have a leg up on the competition."
Finally, guide them to converse, not sell. "While marketing certainly has its place online, when it comes to 'citizen experts' [passionate mavens who communicate online], your clients must listen thoughtfully and communicate with stakeholders in an authentic, humble, human voice," Goodman explains.
Should you use FTP sites to host your press releases?
Lisa Wehr of integrated online marketing leader Oneupweb advises that it's never a good idea.
"Time-starved editors who are constantly bombarded with releases cannot afford more than a minute or two to review any one release. When you add to their engagement time by having them log on to an FTP site, they're much more likely to ignore the release." Wehr says.
"Clearly, there are some downsides to the alternatives," she adds. "Cutting and pasting text into an e-mail can be messy. Attaching a file involves another step for the reader. HTML or image attachments may be picked up by spam filters."
So what does Wehr recommend? "We use a PR service like Vocus or Business Wire," she says. "This enables us to track what's being opened, by whom, etc. [And] there's no substitute for old-fashioned phone follow-up to an e-mail or fax."