The number one rule of being successful in the world of publicity: Don’t sabotage your efforts with dumb and easily correctable mistakes. Avoid these mistakes and you’ll be well on your way to scoring great coverage.
The more you remind a reporter that you’re a commercial entity seeking promotional exposure, the less chance you have. You must think like an objective journalist and have a sense of perspective about who you are and what you sell and communicate that in your materials.
If you spend all day eating, breathing and sleeping packing tape, it’s easy to start believing that the slight change you made in the thickness of your company’s new packing tape is an advance on par with the printing press and the polio vaccine. Now, if you’re planning on working with Packing Tape Monthly, perhaps the editors will agree. But the guys down at USA Today may hold a different opinion. Take a step back and view your company as a marginally interested outsider might.
If a reporter is interviewing you, never say anything you wouldn’t want to appear in a story. Journalists have different interpretations of what “off the record” means and it’s foolish to try to test those limits. Carefully think about everything you say, don’t be pressured into commenting on things you don’t feel comfortable about, stay on message, don’t gossip, backbite or share secrets.
It’s fine to think big, but smart publicity seekers know that time spent getting actual press coverage is a better investment than chasing dreams. So go ahead and send that press kit to Oprah but, in the meantime, work your butt off to get placement in weekly papers, syndicates, e-zines, local radio and other less glamorous places.
Your media list is the lifeblood of your publicity seeking efforts. Take the time to keep it fresh and up to date, or you’ll be wasting your time.
It’s all in the timing. If you’re not thinking months ahead, then it’s probably too late. In early summer, you should be working on “back to school” releases for newspapers and other short-leads. Plan ahead.
Always tell the truth. Journalists are trained to discover the truth. They know how to do research and how to talk to others in your fields to determine whether or not you’re being truthful. So don’t take any chances.
Typos, bad printing, hideous press kit covers, poorly shot photos, improperly formatted press releases, these are the signs of an amateur. Before you send out anything, proof it. Then proof it again. Then give it to someone else to proof. Then proof it again.
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