Archive for the ‘Clients’ Category

Getting publicity – work your contacts

Live History imageOne of our tourism clients, Live History, has achieved some valuable media coverage lately – with absolutely no help from us!

These guys are excellent at working their contacts – identifying and taking opportunities as they arise – and not giving up.

There’s good advice here for all small businesses. Here’s what happened in their own words:

“It was one of those serendipitous things. We were outside the Cascade Brewery [in Hobart] a year or two ago, when the editor of Forty Degrees South appeared with his camera doing a shoot for an advert. He took one look at us in our costumes and asked us if we’d like to be in the ad. Well, we normally get paid to be in ads but we thought why not? Good exposure.

“He then gave us his card and told us to contact him about an article in his publication. I had to work him like mad and keep onto him, but we eventually got the article.

“He wanted to take his own photos but always seemed unable to come when we had a tour group going out. Eventually I sent him my CD of top quality photos (taken as a favour by a photographer friend of ours), which he went with for the article.

“It has already brought us several clients – and it’s the sort of publication that is around for many months (unlike a daily paper).

“We were also in an edition of The Wanderer (a publication produced by the Campervan & Motorhome Club of Australia), which has brought us many clients. This happened because we took the director and his wife out on a tour the summer before last.

“We always have a debrief after a tour to find out where our guests heard about us etc. When I discovered that he was the director of a motorhome club that had a magazine, I suggested an article. He said he had no writing skills, but I said that I had! I ghost-wrote the article for him and again sent photos. The result was a great article in their magazine.

“I guess it’s about being inquisitive, confident and proactive – always on the lookout for opportunities to self-promote creatively.”

Now it isn’t every business that happens to have journalists bumping into them in the street or walking into their store – but the message is to remain open to possibility. You can invite journalists to experience what your business has to offer, and then work with them to create opportunities.

You will also often find that organisations connected to your business have publications, newsletters or websites that publish articles and news – if you’re not sure, ask them.

And finally, don’t underestimate the power of photographs. It was the photos that got Live History the first article, and no doubt they were a deciding factor in the second. Providing good quality images saves journalists’ time and outlay, and helps to ensure you project the image you want.

Why your PR focus should be on media releases and search marketing

Publicity is all about attracting attention to your business from your target audience. It’s the core of public relations – the relationship between you and your public.

In my experience as an editor and now a publicity manager, the best ways for a small business to achieve this are:

  1. Press release campaigns: sending specific messages to targeted media contacts.
  2. Search marketing: optimising your site so that journalists and your public can find you.

We have just seen coverage in Australian Traveller magazine and The Age travel section for one of our Hidden Jewel winners – Auswalk. These features are examples of how a business can benefit from being linked to an authoritative article relating directly to their business. The content of the feature is likely to draw interested readers – and the recommended businesses are likely to be their first port of call when they decide to book.

So how do you become a source that journalists choose to recommend?

In this case, the Australian Traveller article was a direct result of our May 2007 press release campaign, and shows how a press release can continue to bring results even months after distribution. Even if a media release isn’t picked up immediately, many editors will file releases that contain useful background and links for future articles.

The Age article demonstrates how publicity isn’t always a precise science. While our contacts at The Age did receive the press release, it is quite possible that the feature writer used online search to obtain their information. We may never know because asking a journalist where they sourced their information is something we rarely do – they are very busy people after all.

However, we do know that, increasingly, journalists are using Google to research their articles. I used to do this myself when I worked as a travel writer and editor, and the information and leads I obtained from the sites would then form the basis of my research. The more authoritative and useful the information, and the more helpful the leads, the more likely they were to be recommended in my features.

Assuming a journo writing about walking holidays in each state would use ‘walking holidays Victoria’ as a keyword (a word or phrase typed into a search engine), a quick Google search turns up Auswalk in the top 3 links, below the sponsored links. So it would only take a few seconds to find the best source for this information.

This is why online marketing is important not only to attract your public directly, but also to enable journalists researching on a particular topic to find you. Publish your media releases on your site, along with lots of other optimised, authoritative content, and your chance of coverage increases even further.

So take your keyword analysis seriously – being found by the media can result in a multiplied effect if they include your business in their publication, significantly raising your credibility and your public’s awareness.

Getting the most out of your press release

It’s great to see some of our clients really making their press releases work hard for them. Once we’ve prepared a release for a client, they are free to do whatever they want with it, from hanging a framed copy in the dunny to worldwide distribution!

We distribute releases to a carefully targeted list of media contacts, and our results speak for themselves. Even so, it’s worth being opportunistic with your release.

One of our tourism clients took copies to a trade show, resulting in an Australian tourism commission PR manager in Europe picking up on the story and distributing it to her media contacts there.

There are also opportunities to make use of a release when you are contacted by advertising departments wanting you to part with hard-earned dollars. Send them the release with thumbnail images and you may get editorial as well – which is generally considered to be significantly more effective than advertising.

Press releases don’t always have to go direct to the press either. Include them in promotional packs, send them to potential distributors or wholesalers, and post them on your site for customers to read. A well written release provides good, informative content that helps to build knowledge and trust.

7 reasons for the success of our press release campaigns

We have run eight press release campaigns for the winners of the PublicityShip Hidden Jewel Awards for small tourism operators.

Faraway BayThe campaigns continue to run, with more publicity expected later this year, but the publicity achieved so far is worth both celebrating and examining to discover the reasons for the success.

Whenever you experience success, do remember to celebrate, but also ask yourself what you did to deserve it. This is just as important as working out why something fails. So here goes:

1. We worked hard to find a hook for each story. For example, the health benefits of walking brought attention to Auswalk’s tours from a different angle, while Faraway Bay focused on the corporate market to grow that part of their business.

The message here is that just talking about your product or service isn’t usually enough. The story needs to take a new perspective, offer something different or be carefully targeted.

Bookabee2. We harnessed the passion of tourism. This worked wonders for Bookabee Tours’ Haydyn Bromley, whose genuine passion for his tours into the Flinders Ranges helped win him a feature in an international trade magazine.

Our recent interview with the magazine’s editor also draws attention to this quality of passion – something that even the most hardened journalist can’t resist!

3. We insisted on good quality, compelling images. This was definitely a factor in much of the coverage – including Faraway Bay’s stunning coastal camp, Live History’s costume drama, and Bookabee’s experiential tours.

Again, we have heard from more than one editor that images can make all the difference to a decision to publish. For many campaigns, especially in tourism, they’re just as important as the press release itself.

Live History4. We applied writing experience to produce press releases that could be easily turned into news stories without further research or pressure on journalists to completely rewrite the story.

News publications, both print and online, will often run stories that are virtually ready to publish without making too many changes. We saw this happen for four of the Hidden Jewels.

5. We included enough links and contact details to make it easy for a journalist to extend the message into a full feature without too much hunting around. Quick responses to enquiries are all part of that process.

This worked particularly well for Bookabee Tours and Faraway Bay, with features on other Hidden Jewels in the pipeline.

Anangu Waai6. We tapped into the zeitgeist – or spirit of the times – by understanding what tourists are looking for and linking our Hidden Jewels to those wants. For example, Ningaloo Blue and Undara Experience appeal to the increasing number of visitors wanting an engaging and moving encounter with the natural world; and Anangu Waai, Tribal Warrior and Bookabee Tours offer the cultural authenticity that is now in high demand.

The message here is, keep your finger on the pulse of your industry and tap into growing demands, needs and trends.

7. We didn’t give up easily! Some messages will hit the editor’s desk at a busy time or simply get overlooked. Far from being disheartened, when this happened to us, we sent out follow-up messages and/or extra images with friendly emails, and made a few calls to discuss stories with our contacts.

This made a big difference, getting us attention from contacts who had previously placed our message on a backburner.

To find out more about the campaigns, go to our Client Gallery.

Micro Bats and Night Tigers – six tips on using photographs for your publicity campaign

Undara Experience - Snake catching a bat thumbnailI love pictures that tell a story. And this picture does that in spades. (click on the picture for a larger version).

Undara Experience is to be found in far north Queensland. The Undara Lava Tubes are famous around the world, but not as well known is the remarkable life and death game played by the Micro Bats and the local brown snakes, called the Night Tigers. The Night Tigers congregate in the trees at the entrance to the lava tubes, and when the bats fly out, the snakes strike. Incredible.

Finding good photos like this one will really help you get publicity. But there are photos and then there are photos. What makes for a good publicity photo?

Here are six tips on how to use photographs in a way that will help your publicity campaign.

People Including people in the image helps the viewer imagine themselves ‘there doing that’. The suggestion of movement is also far more compelling than a static image. Eye contact between model and viewer is magnetic.
Tell the Story Reflect the essence of your story simply, with no more than two main elements.
Unusual Use an unusual angle for added impact.
Put The Reader in the Picture Take the photo from the reader’s point of view. This way, the editor can use the image to help put the reader in the picture.
Colour vs Black and White If you are targeting newspapers, finding an image that works in colour and black and white helps your chance of having it covered.
Quality Make sure the images are sharp, well composed and the right quality for print. In technical terms, this means 300dpi size as (A5 is a good rule of thumb). You will also need to have them available in low resolution (72dpi) for emailing in the first instance

Using video to talk to journalists and clients

For the launch of their Internet video chat service in Australia, SightSpeed used their own product to prepare a video for us to distribute to journalists along with the press release.

Now that this quality of video communication is available in Australia at an affordable price for small business, it makes sense to consider using it in your publicity and marketing campaigns too.

As well as including a videolink with your press release, there are many ways of using visual communication to engage the interest of both media and clients in a more direct and personal way.

Use video in your email campaigns, on your site, in your media pack, and in your blog, and consider uploading an experiential video onto social media sites such as YouTube.

For small businesses unable to physically reach a widespread clientele, this is an important step in online marketing.

You’re never too small for an online newsroom

Have you ever visited a corporate website and been impressed by all the head-spinning self-praise? Something that always helps raise a profile is having a media page on the site – also known as online newsrooms. This is the place to store:

  • press releases relating to the company with links to the releases themselves and relevant images available for download
  • links to media coverage achieved
  • a press pack with essential information on your business for journalists, including contact details and images

There’s a much more important reason for this than just growing your head bigger. Having press releases and news about you on your website also enhances your online presence, keeps the news available over an indefinite period, and increases the chance of both journalists and potential clients finding information that interests them.

For example, Google News works by trawling sites looking for news content, and press releases are a likely target. Journalists also search online when preparing articles or looking for stories to fill space. And the additional content provides more search terms to capture potential clients browsing the net.

So – far from being a corporate spin – an online newsroom makes sense for any business, however small. And if you don’t have any press releases to upload, you need to start preparing your first one now. We recommend distributing one press release every three to four months.

PR Influences has some useful advice about online newsrooms. Although aimed at larger businesses, a simplified version of what they recommend is certainly worth considering. And David Meerman Scott makes the point that a newsrooms are no longer the territory of journalists only, so prepare your content with your potential customers in mind.

Take a look at our Client Press Releases page, which lists and links to all our clients’ releases and sites. This is not only good for our clients but showcases what we do and provides a service for journalists searching for stories. Next I will be creating a page documenting media coverage of PublicityShip itself.

A very simple structure for online newsrooms that any small business can follow entails:

  • a page linking to each release about your business,
  • probably one page of images for download, although you can place specific images at the foot of each release,
  • a page showing media coverage received,
  • if you have a media or press pack – an online version in your newsroom.

And make sure your contact details are easy to click.

Of course it helps to be working with a self-managed site so that you can upload each press release and series of images quickly and without the cost of a web administrator. Our platform allows for this, thanks to OM4 – our online marketing business, which will be officially launched shortly.

Publicity Teleclass

After running a publicity campaign for the Australian Business Coaching Club, director Greg Chapman asked me to participate in a Publicity Teleclass for club members interested in finding out how small businesses can get media attention.

Click here to download and listen.

Four reasons our clients are getting publicity

Our four most recent clients have all achieved some excellent coverage, so I thought it might be helpful to pinpoint the reasons for their success.

First up is Melbourne Fashion Experience – a small operation that fills a gap in the top-end fashion market. Proprietors, April Duck and Deborah Boreckyi, have created personalised tours of Melbourne’s tucked-away designer outlets for busy women wanting a top quality shopping trip. The designers themselves are highly supportive of the tours, and will arrange to be on hand whenever a tour is coming through.

Coverage in Shop Til You Drop with a full feature in Melbourne Weekly Magazine were achieved thanks to the unusual and appealing character of the tours. Not only do they offer unique experience, but the visual appeal is strong, making for a more compelling feature-style story.

AllGayCruises proved more of a challenge, with plenty of interest in gay and lesbian publications, but a tentative response from mainstream media, which was the central target for this campaign. Despite having all the elements of a great story – the first gay cruise in Australia, lots of colourful events on board, and plenty of visual appeal – we had our work cut out following the initial press release distribution.

But after umpteen phone calls and hours spent on working up angles, we finally cracked the Sunday Age, and the story was also picked up by travel industry media. In this case, success was largely due to newsworthiness and persistence.

Third, something completely different – business coach Greg Chapman recently launched the Australian Business Coaching Club, an online tool for small and remote businesses to gain access to top-quality business coaching at low cost. As another Australian first, Greg’s story was news, but needed something more than a straight announcement.

So PublicityShip worked with Greg to come up with a ‘business school of the air’ angle. This was picked up by the Daily Telegraph in Sydney and Herald Sun in Melbourne, who ran features in their small business sections.

And finally, the Supertalent Network asked us to publicise this year’s Australian Dance Idol competition for 5-19-year-olds, running this week in Sydney.

Thanks again to newsworthiness and fabulous visual appeal – who can beat children dancing? – the competition was showcased on Channel Nine’s Mornings with Kerri-Anne on Easter Monday, and has raised interest among local media for coverage of the finals.

To sum up – our clients’ success comes from:
1. being newsworthy,
2. having visual impact,
3. finding an appealing angle, and
4. sheer persistence.

You don’t necessarily need all four elements, but the more you have, the more likely you are to get publicity.

New services in the pipeline

Wow. January has been a cracker for us at PublicityShip. I’ll give you a brief update.

Publicity services are changing. We started our business with a press release service, and quickly added services around that to cover planning, distribution and monitoring. We’re just launching a new service called Get Newsworthy. We’ve had a few situations where the best angle we can come up with isn’t good enough to warrant attention in the target media. So, we are borrowing from Guy Kawasaki who advises (I think from The Macintosh Way, but its a lot of years ago) that if all seems grim, ‘get better reality’. Our Get Newsworthy service is all about helping small business figure out ways to do things differently and become more newsworthy.

New online marketing services are about to be released. Our publicity and blogging services are useful tools for companies that want to get their message out. Running an online business now opens up an incredibly wide range of marketing options. So we plan to offer services in bite size chunks, building on our journalism and copywriting skills.

Registrations have continued to come through for the PublicityShip Hidden Jewel Awards. We are approaching 300 entries. We didn’t have any real idea of how many would enter, but this is a fantastic result. Jane has worked her magic in terms of getting the message out to all the right places. We get a buzz out of hearing from so many small tourism ventures around Australia.

We are working with a significant proportion of clients from NSW and Victoria at the moment – not surprising really. Its a great sign for us, new clients are approaching us directly from the web, with a good understanding of what we do and what they want.

Our new email based publicity course is steadily building subscribers. We aren’t getting feedback from everyone, but those who have told us about their experience have been really positive. Its an 8 part series, and we were worried it would be too long. Feedback to date has been its spot on. After we launched ours, I noticed that Joan Stewart at PublicityHound recently launched an email publicity course as well. Her material is always very interesting, and at 89 parts, this is one of the longest autoresponder courses I’ve heard of. I’m thinking we will see more resources of this nature appear.

Paul and Jenny’s blog is coming along hugely. Traffic is growing consistently, and they are getting new bookings directly from the site. Once we have enough stories collected, we will help publish their first eBook. Julia and I really enjoyed a comment from Jenny last week “I’ve been so busy today I haven’t had a chance to look at AdWords”. Paul and Jenny have a small (but very effective) AdWords campaign running, and are both expert with Google Analytics.

Angie and Shelley at Mardon are so busy its just amazing. They are operating a flourishing recruitment company in a boom economy, so its not a surprise. Blogging for recruitment is a lot harder than we thought. We’ve talked about what we can do differently – content is key. A trail is definitely being blazed here.

Janet Shaw’s blogs are both travelling exceptionally well. For some reason Google took quite a lot longer to index than it did to index While we aren’t pure SEO specialists, we pride ourselves on our sites having strong SEO fundamentals, so its surprising to see a delay like this. I am constantly inspired by Janet’s determination to get past barriers – she does this with her sport, her writing, and her approach to blogging.

New blogs that we are working on include an integrated photography blogsite, and we’ve advised recently on a number of startups. I feel the WordPress platform is on a growth curve of extraordinary proportions – now I’m no statistician, but surely Google Trends on blog platforms suggests there is some basis to this. I’m convinced that many people haven’t realised exactly what WordPress has achieved in terms of bringing together a blog platform with a content management system. Sure it might not be the *best* content management system in the world – but its very good. Very good coupled with very easy coupled with an open source community tells me that WordPress is going to dominate blogging and user-editable websites (in fact, they will merge). Pity you can’t buy shares in it.

Our publicity work is going full tilt right now – travel, fashion, cosmetics, and personal coaching are some of the main industries.

For a new business (well, we’re nearly a year old now), this is just such an exciting period. Making sure we are able to grow and maintain our level of service is going to be tough. We rely heavily on our freelance journalists and writing skills, so we have to keep on getting better at finding good freelancers and getting their skills applied at the right time and the right place. If you know of journalists who might like to do some additional freelance work, please get them to contact us, we would love to hear from them.

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