Tag Archives: 30 Days to Online PR and Marketing Success


By Gail Z. Martin

Every business owner dreams of seeing his or her press release on the front page of The New York Times. But did you ever stop to realize that as ego-gratifying as an above-the-fold placement in a major newspaper might be, it might completely miss your target audience?

Thirty years ago, consumers received their information differently than they do today.  Back when there were only three major TV networks, all an advertiser or publicist had to do was get onto the major networks to reach most viewers. When a daily newspaper and weekly magazines were the only choice for news, the strategy was simple—get in the paper and magazines.

But times have changed. The proliferation of cable channels, satellite radio choices, online news magazines, and mobile phone applications, as well as the demise of many long-running newspapers and magazines has completely changed how consumers consume information. “Mass media” is now not nearly as “mass” as it used to be. So making the front page of a major newspaper won’t help you sell products or services if your target audience doesn’t read that newspaper. Welcome to a whole new world of niche marketing.

Niche Marketing Gets Results

Does the shift in consumers’ media preference mean the end of mass media? No—or at least, not yet. However, that shift has dramatically reduced the effectiveness of mass media to reach the same kind of broad audience they once dominated. Believe it or not, “mass media” vehicles such as The New York Times, CBS and FM radio stations have become niches themselves. Since they can’t promise to reach everyone, even such long-lived media vehicles now emphasize the profile of the consumer they do reach (in other words, their niche).

Am I saying that mass media no longer plays a valuable role in promotion? No—but its role isn’t what it used to be. The big newspapers, the three major broadcast networks and big city FM radio stations can help a major advertiser saturate a market, but they reach a shrinking audience base at a very high cost per person compared with New Media alternatives. If you’ve got a couple of million dollars to round out your promotional campaign, go ahead and spend it with the traditional media. If you’re looking for a better, more focused and less expensive alternative, keep reading.

Refocus your idea of PR to take a broader look at the opportunities that exist for you to reach your target audience. Many people are so obsessed with having their press release picked up by a big newspaper, a major magazine or a network TV show that they have not bothered to study those media vehicles audience profiles to assure that the message is reaching the right consumer. Sure, you get bragging rights if your release is picked up by a big paper, but will you get sales? It won’t hurt—but how much will it help? Not only that, but what’s the value of a one-shot media mention versus developing relationships with more targeted venues that provide the potential for you to reach your ideal customer over and over again?

Here’s something else to consider: how often can your company generate news that is truly worthy of national attention? For most mid-sized companies, having national-caliber news might happen once or twice a year—a new product launch, an IPO, landing a huge company as a client. For solo professionals and small companies, even a once-a-year national news item might be a stretch. Publishing a new book with a major publisher would qualify, as would winning a national award or being named to a national board of directors, but beyond that, it is difficult to imagine too many opportunities that would tempt a national reporter to cover your news.

Now re-think that question, with your focus on regional/local news as well as the information sources that reach your profession or industry. Picture your ideal client and think about the blogs, Web sites, podcasts, Internet radio shows, online/offline specialty magazines, newsletters and member organization publications that speak directly to their interests and needs. I bet your mental wheels are turning, helping you envision all kinds of news that would be interesting and valuable to the audience most likely to buy your products or engage your services. Why not focus the majority of your effort where it is likely to make you the most sales?

Excerpted from 30 Days to Online PR and Marketing Success, coming in November from Career Press and available for pre-order now on Amazon!


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More Ways to Ramp Up Your Fall Marketing

By Gail Z. Martin

New year budgets—Managers who ran out of discretionary budget before the end of the fiscal year just ending may be counting the days until the new year’s budget starts and they can buy what they need.  Make sure your business is top of mind by getting your message out early, before the holiday clutter.  September and October are not too early for managers who are budgeting purchases for January.

End of year panic—Fall can be a moment of reckoning for managers who realize that there is more project left than there is calendar to complete it in.  That can lead to forced spending on extra resources, productivity-enhancing tools and outsourcing to meet year-end deadlines.  If your company can help with the last quarter crunch, start getting the message out in September!

Back from the beach—Some companies take a break over the summer.  They put projects on hold, and set few deadlines.  Then, as soon as school reopens, managers are back at their desks and everyone is recharged and ready to get down to business.  That can include making decisions about purchases that have been deferred over the vacation months.  Early Fall is the perfect time to follow up on proposals and close those deals with fresh sales materials or customized direct mail pieces.

Get ahead of your competition by revving up your marketing engines in the Fall.  Use the pressure of the business cycle to your advantage, and market your goods and services relentlessly as the year counts down.  By helping your clients have a successful year-end, you’ll also be doing your own bottom line a favor.

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Marketing Tips For Autumn Profits

By Gail Z. Martin

Is your company’s marketing ready for Fall opportunities?  If you plan to make a big splash about an early Fall event or promotion, remember that it requires four to six weeks advance notice at the least to prepare marketing materials without incurring rush charges.  Even if you are expecting big things from the winter holiday season, the time to start the marketing machine is when the kids go back to school!

Why is Fall such a great marketing opportunity?  Think of it as a side effect of the traditional business cycle.

End of year budgets—Some managers are cautious during the first half of the year, hoarding their budget.  Then during the second half, they realize that year-end budget planning and deliverables are coming up, and the purse strings loosen to get key projects completed on time.  This is especially true for companies with a “use-it-or-lose-it” budget approach, where managers have an incentive to spend down before the end of the year.

Ramp up for the holidays—It is a wonderful thing for business that so much of the world celebrates a holiday of some kind during the last few months of the year.  Between October and January, almost everyone has a reason to buy gifts, stock up on special groceries and entertain.  If your business sells gift items, food, entertainment services or home décor, this is the season to make sure everyone knows about you!  You’ll need some extra marketing savvy to cut through the clutter.

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Track Email For Better Marketing Results

By Gail Z. Martin

Today’s email marketing programs also include tracking. Take the time to review these reports, because they will give you valuable information about how your readers are responding. If you see a lot of people opting out, you may be sending information too often, or you may not have a good match between your content and your readers’ true interests. Are people clicking to open your newsletter? That’s a good sign, but it may not tell the whole truth about the number of people who are actually reading the newsletter, since many people can preview an email without clicking to open it. Look at your report to see how many people are clicking through on the links you provide. This will give you insight into which offers and what kinds of information are of greatest interest. Refine your newsletter by eliminating the parts that don’t work well and doing more of the elements that are capturing your readers’ attention.

Building your opt-in email newsletter list is an essential part of your online marketing strategy. Offer a free, downloadable bonus item on your Web site and on your social media sites. This might be an article, white paper, case study, tip sheet or quiz. Make it clear that receiving the free bonus item also includes a free subscription to your monthly newsletter, with the ability to unsubscribe at any time. Change your downloadable bonus offer every few months to keep it fresh and to entice new visitors to subscribe.

Ideally, you want to build a list of people who like what you have to say and have given you permission to stay in touch with them via email. Never purchase or borrow an email list compiled by someone else. Sending mass emails to people who did not request to hear from you is spam and it can reduce your businesses’ credibility and even get you dropped from your Web hosting platform. If you want to reach someone else’s email newsletter audience, work out an arrangement for that person to feature an article with your by-line, or run an ad with an affiliate link to your product. You gain credibility by being recommended by the list owner, and you keep yourself out of trouble.

Excerpted from 30 Days to Online PR and Marketing Success, coming in November from Career Press and available for pre-order now on Amazon!

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Getting More from Your Email Newsletter

By Gail Z. Martin

Make sure your email newsletter focuses on reader value rather than hard-sell pitches. Most of your content should provide information and tips, along with a featured offer or event invitation from your company. Avoid sending email newsletters too frequently. Most companies do well with a monthly format. Some utilize a very short weekly tip or motivational quote along with one or two brief links to their own products or events.

Engage your reader by making your newsletter interactive. Give them a reason to click on links to see videos, hear audios and read more beyond the short tip that’s posted. Include polls and surveys. Give readers incentive to visit your Facebook page, Twitter feed and blog by mentioning the topics you’ve recently covered or will talk about soon. If you’re promoting an upcoming event, include a link to the event sign-up page. Promoting a “special of the month” product or service? Make sure there’s a “buy now” link handy to make it easy for readers to purchase.

Don’t reprint your press releases in press release format, but do make sure to report your news, awards, upcoming programs, and participating in community and industry events. Make sure to include your own ads for products or events. If you have something big coming up, add a special banner ad to get attention. It’s your newsletter; make it work hard for you.

Excerpted from 30 Days to Online PR and Marketing Success, coming in November from Career Press and available for pre-order now on Amazon!

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