Archive for the ‘About PublicityShip’ Category

Effective publicity rests on good content

Fingers on keyboardWe started PublicityShip on the premise that media exposure through story-telling is the best form of marketing for small businesses. At the same time, we included an undercurrent of blogging – something that we believe carries huge potential as a marketing tool for niche enterprises.

These two apparently disparate marketing methods are inextricably linked within our business model as two of the most important ways to acquire customers and build trust.

Their common attributes rest on one fundamental philosophy – good, authentic content is your most powerful marketing weapon.

And effective publicity rests on good content.

Entrepreneur and expert blogger, Seth Godin, goes so far as to question the value of chasing media exposure in How Do We Get One of Those?

From another blogger I might have turned away with a sceptical grunt, but Seth is always worth taking seriously. And he has a point. Media exposure is fantastic – if you can get it. And thankfully we have been pretty successful so far in getting articles about our clients into the print media.

But Seth’s message, as I read it, is that this isn’t the be-all and end-all of content marketing.

The long-term potential lies in the Internet world of blogging, networking, linking, and generally engaging your communities of interest online

By continually producing good, authentic content in a strategic and planned way, you are more likely to attract the customers you want and keep them coming back for more.

The 5 Basic Rules of Internet Marketing briefly outlines the potential of what I prefer to call online content marketing.

There are several ways to harness the potential of the Internet, and this is where our energies at PublicityShip are currently focused – along with our Hidden Jewel Awards, which in themselves are a great example of how direct marketing can work quickly online.

As we build on our business-blogging model, more ideas and services will begin to appear on our site.

Finding the Hidden Jewels

Hidden Jewel logoThe PublicityShip Hidden Jewel Awards have just been launched. The awards are designed to assist a small tourism operator who has a great story, but for whatever reason hasn’t been able to get their story out. The winner gets a publicity campaign that operates over almost a full year, planning and executing four major story initiatives targeting major travel publications and programmes. They also get a travel blog.

Cable Beach fishingThe feedback has been fantastic. Jane spent quite a bit of time putting together the awards, and drew on her travel industry colleagues for help in the judging. Channel 9 Postcards, AAT Kings and Australian Traveller magazine will each provide a judge to work with Jane on the judging panel. Here is what they have had to say about the awards:

We are constantly on the lookout for innovative new products that offer a top quality experience for travellers looking to get out and explore Australia. Les Cox, CEO, AAT Kings

Australian Traveller is delighted to support any project that helps small and worthy tourism businesses to stand out from the crowd… Hidden Jewel is a little gem of an idea. You can be sitting on the greatest product in the world, but without an effective way to get your voice out there, you’re going to struggle every inch of the way. Greg Barton, Editor, Australian Traveller

It is a credit to PublicityShip to create a concept that encompasses our philosophy on tourism promotion … every day in our travels we meet small tourism operators who work tirelessly to run their business. We certainly understand how difficult it is to ‘spread the word’ and how costly advertising campaigns can be. Alex Ristevski, Channel Nine, Postcards.

There’s quite an investment involved in these awards for us, as we are providing the prizes. That is not just the national winner, but also a single story publicity campaign for each state and territory winner. From our perspective, we are hoping it will help get our story out to travel and tourism operators. So its an investment that we hope will deliver a return all around.

We wrapped up final approvals from Postcards, Australian Traveller and AAT Kings this week, and we have now started distributing the release. Our newsletter also mentioned it. Its great to see such a rapid response! In the space of about an hour this morning, we got 10 registrations of interest in the awards. We expect to see surges of interest as the different regional tourism groups start to spread the word. And of course we are hoping for some media coverage. There are no guarantees here, we’ll just have to wait and see whether the court of media opinion deems the Hidden Jewel Awards newsworthy enough.

Update to privacy policy

We are about to launch our Hidden Jewel competition for the travel and tourism sector, and this prompted a thorough review of our Privacy Policy.

Its definitely time to be a bit more specific about how we manage privacy. For us, its not just a theoretical or compliance matter, there is a very practical perspective. We are an online services company, and for clients to do business with us online, they have to trust us. Seeing that your service provider takes privacy seriously is an important part of building trust.

Of course, a privacy policy is only as valuable as the implementation. A few of you who know me may be chuckling here – hey, its what I’d call a healthy level of paranoia! As the saying goes, just because you’re not paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you. A particular event at the local library gave me a clue a line was being crossed. The library had just implemented a new computer system for borrowers, and wanted to keep a drivers licence number on record. A driver’s licence, along with name and address? Hadn’t they heard of identity theft? Even though I just wanted to let the librarian know why I wouldn’t leave my DL#, I noticed both of my daughters trying to melt into the floor… one of those father-daughter moments – be cool!

Anyway, we take privacy seriously here. Any business providing services online needs to take it seriously.

The superseded policy can be reviewed Superseded PublicityShip Privacy Policy, as of 6 Nov 2006here.

Publicity as part of the marketing mix

WhiskWhat’s so great about publicity that we turned it into an art and created a whole business around it? After all, publicity is only a subset of PR, which is a subset of marketing. Shouldn’t advertising be included in the marketing mix in equal measure?

Articles and books about the power of publicity – or PR in general – are being published all the time.

The return on investment for publicity and advertising is difficult to measure, but an article based on a recent book, Unleashing the Power of PR, offers the closest I’ve yet seen to hard evidence.

And when the big guys, like Proctor & Gamble and AT&T, sing the praises of media exposure, it reminds me that we don’t choose publicity only because we’re small businesses and publicity is cheaper – we choose it because the ROI is unquestionable, whatever the size of your business.

Publicity Builds Brand in the Internet Age strengthens the evidence by drawing on The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR, by Al Ries.
There are two interesting points made here:

1. Brands – traditionally built with advertising – are shown to be more effectively built through publicity. Advertising comes into play once the company has been established in the public psyche and the brand needs to be maintained, or reinforced.

2. Personality and expertise are effective publicity tools – we can’t all be Richard Branson or Anita Roddick, but we are all experts in our own field, and being willing to participate in public conversations, whether in the press or online, guarantees a payback for your business.

Again, this is reassuring message for small businesses agonising over where to spend their marketing budget.

It seems that in the growth phase, publicity – which can cover media coverage, online exposure, and networking – does bring results.

Advertising in directories can work well for niche enterprises in particular, and Google Adwords can give you a leg-up until your SEO/blogging strategy takes effect, but big budget ads can wait.

What I learned from my workshop

My first workshop on Publicity for Small Business, held this week, left me feeling dissatisfied. Despite positive feedback from participants, something wasn’t right.

Our post-workshop debrief helped me to identify the problem. I’d been falling into the cracks in my own material.

Lack of confidence in my ability to present as an expert had been allowed to shine through during the transitional seconds between sections of my workshop. I mumbled or apologised, fumbled with papers, and even at one point asked for reassurance: ‘Am I making this sound more complicated than it is?’ Oh dear.

My solution for the next workshop is to turn those dangerous cracks to good use by paying closer attention to participants’ body language in order to draw them into useful interchange. This will help me remember that the workshop is about them, not me, and give me a purposeful way to link each section.

Paying attention to these transition times translates to other media used to educate clients. For our website, how do we move users from one page to another? For blogs – why would a reader subscribe to our rss feed? What makes them want to find out what we’re going to say next?

Then, just as I had become confident about filling the cracks, I read Learning Doesn’t Happen in the Middle – just one section of an excellent article on teaching as a marketing tool.

The gist is that readers, listeners, users, etc will tend to ‘tune out’ during the middle part of each chunk of information. They will only pay attention to the beginning and the end.

So here’s another challenge – how to structure each chunk of information to contain only a beginning and an end, and no middle. Can it be done? I like to think so – keep an eye on our website and workshops to find out.

Use your expertise to attract publicity

One of our newest clients recently clarified for us the value of expertise in the publicity process.

Angie Mardon is a goldmine of information and advice drawn from many years of experience in business, specifically in human resources and recruitment.

Her daughter, Shelley, who also happens to be her business partner, had been looking for ways to harness this invaluable resource to best advantage and was delighted to discover the business blogging concept.

There are many other ways buzzing around my head of harnessing Angie’s expertise, including working with the media to offer an expert opinion on relevant subjects, or even regular columns, becoming a guest speaker or panel member for industry forums, and so on.

Outlets like these enable you – the expert – to become a respected ‘voice’, providing an ongoing source of inspiration and help to a network guaranteed to reach potential clients, whether they be local, interstate or international, and raising the profile of your business.

Back bendTime for a Little Personal Publicity? urges readers not to view this kind of publicity as ‘artless self-promotion’ and I wholeheartedly agree.

On a more practical leve, Five Benefits of Being a Specialist crisply outlines some excellent reasons for giving it a go.

And if it all sounds daunting, there’s help available in the form of ghost-writers and media coaches – and of course PublicityShip.

It’s natural for a small business operator to be unsure that the world wants to hear their point of view, but we often find that running ideas and opinions past an objective audience in the safety of our offices or phone lines convinces them of the worth of their expertise.

No doubt there are countless other small business operators out there with a wealth of experience that others can only benefit from sharing. And the benefits to the business are clear.

  • For a start, by linking your byline to your website, every reader can be potentially drawn into your site with a clear call to action.
  • Another, less obvious, benefit is a refreshment of your business focus. Every small business needs an edge over its competitors, and establishing your personal niche will help you to hone that edge. We are finding this to be a hugely beneficial spin-off from our blog content planning meetings.
  • And finally, publicity gained through shared knowledge helps to build trust in a way that advertising never can.

Does our business model work?

We launched with a simple concept. Let a journalist or editor know about some news that is relevant to their publication or programme, and you have maximised the chance of getting your story in the news. Our business idea was to enable a journalist to work directly with a small business to help identify what is newsworthy about their business, and who the story is relevant for. This is only a small part of what a full service public relations firm might do, but for a small business seeking publicity, its one of the most important parts. So we figured if we could make it easy for a small business to get a journalist working on their publicity, we’d be offering a valuable service.

Well, I’m pleased to report that our fledgling idea has survived its initial forays into the world of small business. Ideas aside, asking a small business to part with money for a service is a great test of whether that service is of value.

The experience we have had from clients has been interesting. Our very first engagement wasn’t all that successful. We started out with a focus on news releases, but it turned what our first client (Curtin Advantage) needed was a news feature. So we started off on the wrong foot, and the feature we delivered wasn’t a great fit for the actual publication it was sent to. So not a failure, just not that successful. Our second engagement however, was a proper failure. This also was a request for a news feature, and we knew the publication in advance. Well, our journalist wrote what we thought was a great news story. But the client didn’t like it – in fact, they hated it. The story they wanted had a much stronger marketing flavour, and they thought our story missed critical elements of their story. Ouch!

Having to pay our freelance journalist even when we couldn’t bill the client proved a useful reminder on the value of staying focussed! We also decided that we would never, ever send a journalist to do a marketer’s job!

After these two mis-steps, we found our footing with Tsar. The basic idea – find the most newsworthy aspect of a story and help get it in front of the right media – worked extremely well. Our client was happy, and we were very happy. The message – that publicity matters for small business, and that our ‘journalist led’ model is a good fit – has been repeated with multiple client engagements since then – notably ILABC, AIPP, World of Worlds, SurfWest and Clear Vision (see our Client Gallery for more details).

Mardon logoMost recently we got positive feedback on our business model when we met Angie and Shelley from Mardon Recruitment, a boutique recruitment company. Its always great to get good feedback, but it was particularly rewarding to hear Angie and Shelley describe their experience of talking to a number of public relations companies (and not find what they want), and then to come across our service and see a lot to like!

This is fantastic validation for our original business idea – if we can provide a valuable service for small businesses like Mardon, then our busines model is working. We’ve yet to earn the right to say they are a satisfied customer, but we hope to be able to report positively soon.

So, after 5 months we are getting more and more confident that our business model can work, because our clients are telling us that it does. A good plan only gets you so far, real validation can only come from satisfied clients.

Second take on photos

Strong images make a story more attractive (as Jane posted recently ), and in some cases they ARE the story! We are now only 1 day away from the announcement of the Epson WA Photographer of the Year. The embargoed Winners release (with winning images) has gone out, and the response has been very positive.

One of the benefits for PublicityShip of this brief has been the opportunity to work directly with Russell Barton (the current President of the WA chapter of the AIPP). Russell’s powerful photographs have inspired discussions with several of our clients about how to make better use of images to get their story out. And make sure you have a look at his stunning “holiday snaps” over at Russell’s new blog.

Wish I could take snaps like that!

Feeds now on FeedBurner

Our PublicityShip feed has now been published on FeedBurner. Its great to see the subscriptions steadily growing! Please feel free to drop us an email and let us know what you think. With our recent name change, there will soon be a few other changes to our old feeds, but if you use the FeedBurner feeds you won’t notice a thing.

So please subscribe to our new RSS Icon About PublicityShip feed and if you would like to see examples of our work with clients go to our Client Gallery.


We started this business as Release-Writer, but now its time for a change. The level of interest in business blogging is higher than we thought (or dared to hope) it would be. And it turns out that writing the release isn’t the most imporant part of what we do in the news release process anyway.

So after bouncing it around for a week (and playing find-the-available-domain-name) Jane came up with PublicityShip. We think small business publicity is very different to traditional PR, and deserves a better name. The ship suffix is great. It could suggest a quality or condition (like companionship or fellowship), or a certain status achieved (like citizenship, ambassadorship or chairmanship). Or perhaps small business publicity is a skill like entrepeneurship? (Thank you to the Oxford American Dictionaries on my trusty Mac).

Well, we’ll claim all of the above, and one more. A SHIP is a Seriously Helpful Intelligent Person. When you engage us, you are getting the services of seriously helpful people who will intelligently turn their efforts to publicising your small business. We look forward to working with you.

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