PRESS. PROFIT. AND PROVOCATION: Library Promotion for the Over-educated: Part 4
by Tia Dobi.
"It got to the point that whenever someone in our company used the bathroom, you could read about it in the trade press" - David Ogilvy on his start from a 2-man shop to his ad agency's rise to worldwide acclaim
I'm a copywriter. And this is my confession:
It's not who you know. It's who knows you.
For instance: Kenny G. has sold over 75 million records. Only Kenny doesn't know 75 million people. He's not a talkshow host. Or a spokesperson in a major ad campaign. So how does he do it? The answer is in these 71 words:
"Know how to sell your wares. It is not enough that they have intrinsic merit, for everyone does not bite the substance nor look within. Most go where there is a crowd, and go because they see that others go. Also, to offer a thing only to connoisseurs is a means to universal interest, because people either believe themselves to be such, or, if not, they find the lack incites desire."
These marketing words of wisdom are from one of the greatest marketing minds of all times. A 17th century Jesuit priest by the name of Baltasar Gracian.
Products don't sell on stand-alone merit. It's what you say about the product that motivates a prospect to buy. Even a free product selling solely on the basis of its quality is an idealistic thought, but it's simply not reality. For instance, everyone loves libraries, but libraries can't live on love alone. Fortunately, there is an almost free method to generate "madness of the crowd."
GREAT SELLING IS SALESMANSHIP IN PRINT
Showing how people experience your product is the way to go. And the best way to say that is via: The power of a 3rd party. One that's going to effectively position you and your company as experts in your field, so that when your prospects are looking for solutions to their problems, they find you.
And that would be: the power of the other information junkie. The press.
What I'm talking about here is publicity. In the form of a news release. Done right, it's far and away THE most effective form of advertising that you can possibly do.
News releases are refreshing stories sprinkled throughout the media that keep us sane. My requirement is that they sell. What that means is that they're such a pleasure for the editor to read she can't help but print it.
And weighing the relative value of information is a matter of educated guessing, psychology, and news instinct.
Then there's the return factor.
THE POWER OF THE PRESS. RELEASE
Kim Reed is the west coast head of publicity for USA Network, overseeing virtually all entertainment programming on the channel. With 5,000 press releases to his credit, I asked him if measuring direct, monetary return on investment is possible with a free publicity campaign.
"This is a very long discussion. Publicity campaigns, by and large, are not measurable with the exception of the number of media breaks we get. The impressions are weighed, not really measured. How many print pieces broke, how many on-air stories ran? If you're trying to translate that into dollars, or even some kind of ROI, it's difficult. The closest we've ever come is translating the amount of print we get vs. how much a comparable amount of advertising would have cost. It's a hollow argument, though, because that presupposes that the campaign included advertising and was budgeted for it. One of the great benefits of publicity is that it's basically free [except for that expensive lunch you have to take the writer to]. At the end of the day, it comes down to this: it's who knows you."
UNDERSTANDING RELEASE BASICS: TERMS TO SEE YOU THROUGH
News story: although one immediate end result of your sent news release, it's also the basic elements of a publicity campaign. It starts with the 1st unleashing of your story to the media in the form of a news release.
The term press release is commonly used; technically press refers to print media. The proper name news release targets both print and electronic media.
Release types: Different types of news stories support your campaign: 1) kick-off or announcement 2) Follow-up 3) Wrap-up. Each news story merits its own release. Multiple releases = maximizes your campaign.
Angle: What's the hook that makes your story new news? Use a fresh angle for every news release. I.D.'ing different angles = creates additional news stories that increases your campaign's audience.
Tone: Campaigns can be humourous, serious, shocking, educational or whatever you want it to be. Set the tone. Set the pace. And keep it.
Market considerations: In small to medium-size markets, news about people often receives the most play. In medium to large-size markets, local stories with national implications, or ones that reflect national trends can have better pick-up. Keep your perspective: what's happening today in local + national issues that you can weave into your release?
Structure: The inverted pyramid is the preferred format. Start with a lead sentence answering: who, what, when, where, why. Stay specific to support your announcement, including attribution to the person(s) responsible for the action or info. (Some reporters don't read past the 1st paragraph). Use quotes from principals or 3rd party testimonials. Final paragraphs are background information. And a great place for stats.
Header and sub-head: Pulling in 80% of a release' readership, the headline should be brief and attention-grabbing. All good researchers (that's you) will have a 2nd way to say the same thing. That's the sub-head.
Boilerplate: the boilerplate is the last paragraph. Standard information about your company, founding dates, location, parent organization. [Most publicists miss out by not making this a Unique Selling Proposition. Stay tuned to this column for how-to write a $million USP].
A SURE BET!
"It is great when you have a great product to sell," says Dani Porter, who five years ago chose to put her marketing skills -- once used to promote some of the country's major casinos -- behind libraries.
Whether looking for large gifts, promoting innovative programs, or luring people to casinos, Porter says, "It's all about relationships." The difference is that "working with libraries seems important, and there is never a dull moment." Though she believes in the power of marketing almost as much as the importance of libraries, she knows not all libraries have the resources for a full-time promoter. "If there is a way, combine people with different strengths, put together ten to 20 hours per week, run a library column in the local paper," she advises. "You would be surprised at what people pay attention to."
HOW TO USE PUBLICITY TO YOUR ADVANTAGE
Most salespeople [any person with any product made specifically for use by any other person] spend their life making unsolicited calls and visits, beating down doors and windows, climbing over barbed wire fences, burning up shoe leather, and inventing excuses to go see people who don't want to see them. Now I'm here to release you from that bondage because truly: It's all in the wrist.
There's lots of ways to use free PR to your 'it's not who I know it's who knows me' advantage. Hooks are the #1 sales tool of any release. They're also your main PR hook, because librarians are RESEARCHERS.
How does this help your library become in demand, with the customers chasing you, and onto something really big.
If you became obsessed with the idea of magnetically attracting customers. You become a marketing maniac, hunting for every conceivable way to get people to come to YOU first.
Well there's a major shift in thinking you have to make before this can ever happen. Here's the best way I know to explain it:
Nobody who bought a drill actually wanted a drill.
They wanted a hole.
Therefore, if you want to sell drills, you should advertise information about making holes - NOT information about drills!
So you can do what I do. Unlike other publicity hounds, I send 'Ten Angles for Editors' with every press release.
This is what I call "Information Marketing" and it's the central concept behind my marketing system.
"Come in, please come in, and take some knowledge for free, no limit, keep going, gorge on it if you want, no, it's not a trick, a come on, a free sample and then we'll bill you later, or we''ll paper your head with banners and popups" - author Larry Beinhart in his political thriller The Librarian.
Give the press more than what they ask for. Take your story, and add ten 1-2 liners about how else this information can be used. Listed questions about your subject and related subjects are the best format. Why? It gets the reporter thinking about more than just one way to use the info. And it's her job to constantly churn out information product.
Questions will make her want to call you for the answers. So don't be surprised if you get a returned call to your faxed release. Maybe the call won't be about the main story idea.
That's OK. Like Kenny, getting your name in gilded lettering is the key.
When you make the transition from product marketing to information marketing, a whole new world opens up to you. Suddenly your website, your flyers, your radio PSA's everything else become 100% to 1000% more effective!
I can't begin to tell you how important this is. Once you get the hang of this, another huge breakthrough happens: Suddenly the doors to free publicity flung wide open. As soon as you go from being a "product marketeur" to an "Information Marketeur," magazine and newspaper editors will love you.
Don't forget. Be sure and post your free advertisements (press releases) on your website.
AND THE ACADEMY AWARD GOES TO...
Contest question: What is the most prestigious award of the American Library Association? The award for the most new members signed? How about recognition for helping more kids read? Accolades for initiating best library partnerships? Celebration of the longest-running centennial celebration? Fiscal funding fitness and finesse?
Well, no. Instead, it's the John Cotton Dana Award, sponsored by H.W. Wilson, honoring outstanding library public relations! [See http://www.ala.org/ala/pressreleases2005/january2005a/jcd2005.htm] Which could include any of the examples listed here. Or maybe your library's current (or soon-to-be) campaign.
How's about a little press and provocation for your neighbourhood library? Afterall, isn't it the only place like it in the world?
A-ha. I thought so. And now, gentle reader, I'm going to ask you to become an information marketeur to the press with this 1st step. One that's suited specifically to your profession, and can help put libraries on the map and off the charts in America. Simply, compile a list of 6 media reporters in your neck of the woods. Write a short pithy phone script introducing yourself as a direct factual informant to that reporter. Someone s/he can count on to provide accurate info in a pinch, deadlines and all. If Kenny can play to millions of fans, how many can you have with what you say? This 'feet-wet with-the-press' will guarantee more people know you. Plus, help you to master the pro-communications industry. And reap its sweet rewards.
Let me know how it grows.
Tia Dobi is a copywriter and library fanatic in Los Angeles. Reach her now at [email protected]
Subscribe to ALA Library PR Talk and other helpful lists, http://www.ala.org/ala/pio/electronicdiscussion/elec
OTHER ARTICLES IN THIS SERIES:
- Part 1 http://marylaine.com/exlibris/xlib229.html
- Part 2 http://marylaine.com/exlibris/xlib234.html
- Part 3 http://marylaine.com/exlibris/xlib236.html
- Part 5 http://marylaine.com/exlibris/xlib244.html
- Part 6 http://marylaine.com/exlibris/xlib249.html
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An effective strategy to counter invisibility is to be seen. I would love to see waves of librarians out and about, speaking at schools, at community events, in churches, at city meetings, and anywhere we can find a forum.
Myra Michele Brown. "Can I Have Your Autograph?" American Libraries, November, 2004.
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Copyright, Marylaine Block, 1999-2005.
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