In recent weeks we’ve shown you how editorial coverage can help promote your business for free. We’ve covered the steps to writing a quality press release, and we’ve given you tips for scoring more PR in your local area. Today we’d like to help you find some unique ways to get your business noticed by the media.
Contests… with a twist
Contests are nothing new in the world of marketing, and they’re not exactly breaking news, unless your prize is something really spectacular. However, a contest with a “twist” could garner you some serious PR.
Land of Odds, a bead company in Nashville, Tennessee has found a great contest with a twist. Each year Land of Odds holds an annual “Ugly Necklace Contest.” It’s a fun way to get people talking about their business and their products, and it works. Every year this contest lands their business tons of free publicity and media coverage.
Duck® brand duct tape was one of the first companies to leverage the contest with a twist on a national scale. Their widely popular Stuck at Prom® contest gives thousands of dollars of scholarship money to teens willing to create an entire prom ensemble completely out of Duck® brand duct tape.
Money makes the world go ‘round
Financial donations are an excellent way to earn positive local press for your business. Whether it’s underwriting the cost for a little league sports team, sending a needy child to summer camp, or sponsoring a hole in a local charity golf tournament – doing good for others is good for business.
The community at large is more likely to support local business associated with doing good works for charitable causes. Marketing studies consistently show that charitable donations, either through cash or services, end up making a positive impact on the company’s bottom line. A company that is perceived as generous and giving will often reap the rewards of more media coverage.
Public services… a sneaky PR tool
Free community seminars, educational workshops, luncheons, and other public services are other effective ways to get the media to take notice of your business. Both the community at large and the media view public services as a positive investment in the local community.
Twice a year, a local Jiffy Lube franchise in Kernersville, North Carolina, holds an event called “Saturday for Single Moms.” On this day, single moms from all over the community line up to hand over their keys for a free oil change. While they wait, they are treated to coffee and homemade refreshments. Last year, the franchise made arrangements with a local massage therapist to offer free chair massages for the moms. Sure, the franchise had to offer its services for two days at no profit, but the free press it garnered was worth far more in the long run.
Similar to the contest approach, free giveaways can help snag you editorial coverage. But you have to be smart about it – the old business-card-in-the-fishbowl type of giveaway isn’t exactly breaking news. Anybody can give away an iPad… and in fact, it seems like everyone’s doing that these days.
Scott Beane, owner of Beane Construction in Thomasville, North Carolina, recently found PR success with donating a house – yes, a house – to an injured veteran who had served three tours in Afghanistan.
Beane, like many small-town contractors in this economy, was sitting on several finished but unsold homes and decided to do something about it. He turned his housing surplus into a giveaway that roused a generous helping of free media attention on a local and national scale. Beane gave a brand-new house free and clear to Sgt. Joey Smith and his family.
To help recoup some of the costs of giving the home away, Beane turned to other small business owners in the area for help. Their donations helped underwrite the cost of his “loss” and gained them their very own media coverage as well. It was a win-win for everyone involved. Beane says as a direct result of the giveaway, his phone is ringing off the hook more than ever with requests for new construction jobs, both large and small.
Do something different
In life or in business, simply choosing to be different is often the best way to get noticed. The press loves to be the first to report about anything odd or unusual.
Salt Aire Bakery, located in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, tried marketing the launch of their new bakery in a rather unusual way. Armed with free lemonade cupcakes and cheesecake bites, employees and volunteers staked out traffic lights along the oceanfront Highway 17. When the lights would turn red, the cupcakes would come out. All travelers had to do was roll down their windows and ask for one. This created a media frenzy… and eventually a bit of a traffic jam too.
The National Railway Museum in the UK knew it needed a PR makeover, so instead of doing something traditional, the group hired a six year-old as its “Director of Fun.” The idea of hiring a child to help run a museum was so different that even the mighty BBC reported on this story and the National Railway Museum quickly found itself operating in the black once again.
The possibilities for creating news are limited only to your imagination. But a word to the wise: you never want to do anything so outlandish that it could potentially tarnish you or your company’s good name. Keep it fun, uplifting, or inspirational, and you can’t go wrong.