Friday, September 13, 2013

How to Launch Your Own PR Campaign

by Gini Graham Scott, Ph.D.

Kicking Off Your PR Campaign with a Campaign Theme

Start your campaign by developing your campaign theme. This theme is something you can sum up in a phrase or sentence, much like the title of a book. Think of your theme like a news story headline–it’s a statement to quickly attract consumer interest.

For example, when Apple first brought out the Apple computer, their campaign focused around the notion of being different from the PC–it was the computer for “the rest of us.” Other examples of a theme are Verizon’s campaign of “having more phones in the network than any other service” or “having a more reliable network with fewer dropped calls than any other network.”

You can have multiple campaigns, but for each one, center your message around that theme. It’s like having a headline and subheads. Then you tell the story in the rest of your message.
The particular theme you choose should also be one that resonates with your selected target market.

Determining Your Target Market

Your target market is the group of consumers who will be most receptive to your product or service.  Your campaign theme should appeal to them. Thus, you need a match between your message and the group it is aimed at.

Don’t think your product or service will appeal to everyone. That’s too broad. Focus on the segments of the market which will be most receptive. Then, that focus will help you determine the best media and approach to use to reach that market.

This analysis of your market may mean you should review the name you have picked for your product, service, or PR campaign. Maybe you might want to choose a better or more compelling name or even use different names to appeal to different markets. So be ready to go back and reconsider your initial choices if necessary.

This willingness to review and revise is crucial, because sometimes you may think you have chosen a great name. But if you do some market research and get feedback, you may discover that others don’t relate to or like the name. So it may be better to change it early on than to hope you can change people’s attitudes and opinions, which are often difficult to change.

Linking Your Product or Service to the Daily News

If you can tie your product or service to what’s going on in the news, that can help you get publicity, because your product or service seems more timely and relevant, rather than just another new product, service, book, or whatever. So look at what’s happening in the news and how can you be an expert to comment on what’s happening or how your product or service might provide an important and unique benefit.

For instance, if you want to promote a humanitarian song, rather than directly promoting the song, promote some of the ways the song been used in different groups or how the song’s message ties into something in the news, such as promoting awareness of the immigration crisis which is very much in the news.

Promoting a Niche Product or Service

If you have a niche product or service, figure out what is your niche market, so you can direct your PR towards that market. By the same token, pick out key words to appeal to that market, and any time you do a mass mailing, feature those words in the mailing. Likewise, pick the particular media that serve that market.

For instance, if you have a product or book that appeals to managers, direct your PR to the business media. If it is a product or book that appeals to women consumers, direct your PR towards consumer publications or feature editors who cover topics that appeal to women. The more you can target the media, the better it is for your product or service.

Using Promotional Events

One way to promote your product and services is to create a special promotional event around it.  Some ways to do this are:

Create tie-ins with other groups, so you might do something on a larger scale.

Contribute part of your earnings for the event or product sales to a charity, whereby a certain percentage goes to that charity.

Put on a free event so that people in the media would feel more comfortable promoting it because it’s free. If you are charging, say $10 at the door, even if that’s to cover your costs for food and supplies, the media will think it’s a commercial event which you should advertise. So to maximize your publicity appeal, make your event free.

Find a way to make your event stand out and be unique.

Because we’re in a very celebrity-driven culture, if you can get a celebrity or a high-profile spokesperson to appear at your event or endorse your products or service, you’ll increase your credibility and appeal. Sometimes celebrities will appear at an event or provide an endorsement for free, if they really like what you’re doing. Other times they may want a certain fee or percentage of the door charge or of sales.

If your event or the sales potential is a large enough, a percentage of the door or sales may be all you need and you may not have to offer a guarantee or pay out anything upfront. Or connecting your event or sales to a charity may help you build sales as well as get celebrity endorsements, since some celebrities pick out charities they are particularly interested in. So if you can connect your event or activity to a charity that may be a way to gain the participation of a celebrity who is committed to that cause.

Often you can find restaurants and hotels for your event for a low price or free, because the restaurant or hotel expects increased business from the people you bring.

For example, I did some events at the Monsoon CafĂ© on the Promenade in Santa Monica with about 100 people at each event, and they only required a $100 payment for the use of a large banquet hall and a $100 guarantee for the bartender’s tips. Most of what we collected at the door -- $10 each – went to buy hors d’oeuvres for the group. So the payments from the attendees easily covered the $100 fee, plus most people bought drinks, which reimbursed the bartender. So it was a win-win for all.

Now, due to the recession, many restaurants and bars are hurting, so they are more likely to give you the space for nothing, if it looks like you will bring them a large number of customers.

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Gini Graham Scott, PhD, is the author of over 50 books, specializing in work relationships, professional and personal development, popular culture, and social trends. This article is adapted from DOING YOUR OWN PR, which is published by Arrow Publishing for the Apple iPhone and iPad and by ASJA Press/iUniverse as a paperback. She is also the author of USING LINKEDIN TO PROMOTE YOUR BUSINESS OR YOURSELF, 17 TOP SECRETS FOR KEEPING YOUR JOB OR FINDING NEW WORK, and SELLING YOUR BOOK, SCRIPT, OR COLUMN. She is the host/producer of the radio show CHANGEMAKERS and a script writer/film producer, with several projects in development and post-production. She writes books and scripts for others, and consults with writers on how to write, publish, and promote their own books. Her websites are and

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