Cost Effective Marketing: The Press Release
by Alfred Lautenslager

Articles are popping up all over the place, suggesting ways to do business when the economy softens. By virtue of these articles popping up are we to assume that the economy has in fact taken a turn down? Most will agree that this is somewhat the case and businesses have been affected. Regardless of the economists and statisticians, all businesses, large or small, printing or related, encounter some type of cycle where business is not as robust as a previous period.

When this happens, the experts will suggest cost cutting. All of the layoffs we read about today are ways to do this. Budgets are analyzed and gone over with fine toothcombs. Discretionary spending is cut. Overhead is sliced. Unnecessary programs are abandoned. Companies sometimes have the mentality to save themselves to prosperity.

While these measures do work in a lot of cases there are some cautions. It has been observed that one area of cutbacks that companies often make in these situations is marketing. Do we really need to place that next series of advertisements? Do we really need to hold that open house? Do we really need our direct mail program to run that frequently? Is adding to our sales force added cost or truly an investment for a longer-term return? These are the questions that result related to cost cutting and marketing.
My offer to you is that the answers to the above hypothetical questions are yes, yes, yes and yes, an investment for longer term returns. Because it is easy many will answer no, no, no and yes an added cost.

Marketing can be very cost effective.

In determining the effectiveness of various marketing vehicles and techniques, it's always good to look at the low cost, simple items. Getting the highest return on investment is obviously important and starting with low cost, high impact items will increase the rate of that return. Talented promoters and marketers use a variety of techniques that, at times may seem complex, but are really simple.

It's often said that Publicity is free advertising. The true part of this statement is, the space that publicity is placed in, is usually free of charge. Some public relations campaigns can be costly from the standpoint of development and execution. For the smaller printing companies and the online marketer, these costs are low compared to national consumer brand awareness publicity campaigns.

Each day newspapers, TV, radio, and magazines hand out millions of
dollars in FREE publicity. A lot of these stories also end up "on-line". If you have a good "story", news or information to share, an editor somewhere will jump at the chance to use your material. Your name, brand, company and solutions can be spread to thousands of people over night. And the cost? Zero.

Sending out a press release can be the single most effective advertising vehicle--with the smallest amount of effort and cost--providing the press release is well-written, newsworthy, with an angle or a hook, that is appealing to both editors and readers.
The effectiveness of PR depends upon how well your development and execution is carried out, who your target is and what your message is.

Some marketers, in printing companies large and small are very successful using press releases. Newsworthy press releases are almost considered reporting in the journalistic sense. In fact, many a reporter has stated, " I am a reporter, not a writer".

A press release (sometimes called a news release) is simply an announcement about a company, a product or service, an event or anything else newsworthy. Press releases are sent to the media, by professional distribution services or by the individual companies writing the releases. A well-written, newsworthy press release can result in tons of free exposure of your company in newspapers, magazines, tv/radio and online. For example, one Chicago suburban, small, commercial printer offered a relocating Fortune 200 company, free printing, if they chose Chicagoland as their destination. Two press releases "reporting" this generated thousands of dollars of free press; sometimes even landing front-page newspaper articles, (for more details on this contact the author).

The key to a good press release, including the above example, is making it newsworthy, and including a "media hook." If you're confident about your company's professional writing skills, you can write it yourself or you can hire someone to write it for you. Consider hiring a PR consultant, professional writer, college student, or anyone you know who has good writing skills. You can also hire a press release distribution service to write and distribute your release.

Always "target" your press release. If your release is about a new printing technology that you've discovered, and you send your release to editors of sports related magazines, you will be viewed as an amateur and the probability of your press release being published approaches zero.

In closing I will leave you with:

5 reasons writing a press release for your business
is extremely important:

  1. Free advertising.
     
  2. "News stories" always get more attention, credibility, and response than "ads".
     
  3. Very little time spent for large potential return.
     
  4. Opens many doors for business opportunities.
     
  5. Establishes you or your company as an expert, a leader and a business with great credibility.

Press releases can give you publicity in the various media that you could never buy for money. It also seems that good publicity is often much more reliable and trustworthy, these days, than advertising.

There are drawbacks of course, just like anything else. The problem with press releases and "free" publicity is that you can't control when and where they are published. Some editors work well with publicists; others ignore them. Developing editor relationships is a long and arduous task. Leave it to the professionals. It can pay off.

The key to marketing, besides the fact that it is made up of many many little things, is that those little things happen on a consistent basis. A consistent program of hitting the media with press releases is almost ideal and very cost effective. This consistency goes a long way in creating identity and awareness with a product, brand, company or person and will provide a high return on this low cost investment.

Free publicity is the ultimate in cost effectiveness. You get results when you are organized and persistent.

While it's hard to quantify the precise results of press releases, one thing leads to another, including new and valuable contacts, exposure, prospects and eventual customers.

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