Hidden Jewel judges pick out publicity gem

RiverFly boatRiverFly Tasmania is the national winner in the OM4Tourism Hidden Jewel Awards 2008.

The Awards are for small tourism businesses, each state winner receiving an OM4Tourism website with graphic design and keyword analysis.

As the national winner, RiverFly’s Daniel Hackett gets this plus a Publicity Campaign from PublicityShip.

Among the judges were Getaway executive producer, John Walsh, and Australian Traveller publisher, Quentin Long. These guys know what they’re talking about when it comes to potential media material.

RiverFly has the chance to attract attention for three reasons:


Visual imagery is vital to the media, and Daniel has access to some amazing images through photographer and fellow angler Brad Harris.

Daniel and Brad have produced a coffee table book, bringing together Daniel’s river guiding experience with Brad’s photos – not only will these inspire the media to see the potential in the story, but Brad has agreed to supply some of his images to run alongside editorial. This can seal the decision to run with a story.


Expertise is valuable to the media too. Daniel has experience and knowledge that few others possess, and this is an opportunity for the media to tap into this resource and offer their readers and viewers something unique.


RiverFly has also come up with a different angle on fishing and adventure tourism – bringing the two together to create a brand new experience that taps into what the target audience – stressed out professionals and executives – is looking for. They want to escape – not just for a bit of fishing, but for a wilderness adventure that takes them completely out of themselves and their demanding lives.

Daniel has capitalised on this demand and the World Heritage wilderness of Tasmania’s northern riverlands, using his expertise as the catalyst. The result is a cleverly designed product that is nevertheless infused with integrity.

We are looking forward to working with RiverFly on their Publicity Campaign.

A model for small business publicity ideas

Fingers on keyboardGetting publicity depends on having something to offer that’s different and can’t be had anywhere else. This in turn relies on a unique blend of personality, innovation and expertise. In fact all the qualities that form the foundation of a successful enterprise.

So what are you waiting for?

Many businesses find it hard to go past first base when it comes to publicity for many reasons. Planning and running a press release campaign takes time, creative energy, and lots of perseverance.

Knowing what you want to achieve with a campaign is the easy part. Even defining your target audience isn’t too much of a challenge for businesses who understand their clientele. But brainstorming to come up with a newsworthy message that the media will want to run is a big hurdle.

Here’s a publicity planning model that will work for any small business.

Instead of getting stuck at the hurdle, try removing it – at least for the time being.

What if you didn’t have to get the media hooked at all?
What if you could put your messages out directly to your audience?
What if you could harness your enthusiasm and expertise – and that of your staff – to communicate directly to each prospective client one-on-one?

This is the kind of publicity that is now possible through blogging on a search-optimised site. Commenting on Undara.com.au, a blog-enabled website set up by OM4Tourism, Undara’s Marcus Brady said:

What we love about it is the ability to have a two-way conversation with our target audience. We can talk to them whenever we need to communicate anything.

How do you know they’re listening? Because you can measure sign-ups to your blog, and you can use integrated analytics to see how many visitors come to which pages on your site and how long they stay – this includes your blog posts. Marcus reported:

Last week we broke our daily visitor record with 174 in one day, and over 70 per cent of our visitors are finding us for the first time, which is great. The more visitors we get, the more opportunities we have to sell.

Yet this isn’t marketing – this is telling your story, in the same way that an editorial or broadcast tells a story. Marcus again:

Instead of talking like a marketer, I’m appreciating the value of presenting authentic personalities, which reflect what we do so much more effectively.

The long-term effect is to build your authority in your niche area, so not only are you more likely to convert visitors to clients, but when a journalist is researching a story, or a relevant news issue arises, they are more likely to turn to you for additional story content.

Business blogging is therefore an excellent publicity strategy in its own right. But this is only part of the publicity model.

Your blog is a new source of publicity ideas.

Once you get into the swing of blogging about your news, new products and services, industry issues, innovations and the story behind your business, media messages will begin to jump out of the screen at you. Your blog becomes a natural springboard for media campaigns.

When you realise you’ve blogged a message that the media will want to hear, turn it into a press release and shoot it out to your media contacts. Do this regularly and they’ll start to sit up, take notice and come to your site to find out more.

So take some of the creative energy you’ve been expending on brainstorming publicity ideas, and channel it into blogging about your business in your own voice conveying your contagious passion for what you do.

Not only will you attract attention online, but creating media messages will become much easier, and the hurdle won’t seem insurmountable after all.

Achieving your 15 minutes of fame: is this really effective publicity?

press camerasMedia exposure is great – but not if it’s achieved for its own sake.

When you put together your media contact list, think carefully about your target audience. Who are they, where are they, what are they likely to be reading or listening to when they are most open to your products / services, and who do they trust?

Getting a spot in The Age is fantastic – but not if you’re target audience is overseas. Being seen on morning TV is a real buzz – but only if your audience is at home in the mornings.

This is obvious – but it’s only the first step in narrowing down your list. Not only should you stick to the media most likely to be accessed by your audience, but you can also seek out less ‘public’ media with a more direct reach.

For example, one of our contacts was trying to reach a particular retail segment, so he placed a flier in their industry newsletter for just $200. OK it’s not free editorial, but he had reached his audience for a fraction of the cost of more general consumer advertising.

We have also achieved free publicity in regional newsletters because the content was directly relevant to – and genuinely useful for – the readership. In this case, the newsletter editors didn’t see our request as a plea for free promotion, but a helpful piece of information.

What’s great about this kind of publicity is that you’re going directly into media that is already trusted by your niche audience, and you’re getting to them directly via their physical or online mailbox.

No 15 minutes of fame on national TV or newspapers, but potentially much more effective.

2008 Hidden Jewel Awards launched

Blue starfishThe 2007 PublicityShip Hidden Jewel Awards for small tourism operators were a resounding success, with almost 300 businesses from across Australia registering.

Each state winner achieved between 2 and 4 media stories in their target travel and lifestyle publications, including some fantastic features. The national winner, Ningaloo Blue, received a website, which came in at an amazing Google PageRank 4 after just two months of going live.

Hidden Jewel logo mediumFor 2008, we have renamed the Awards the OM4Tourism Hidden Jewel Awards in honour of our new business .

OM4Tourism is dedicated solely to helping small tourism operators get the word out about their services and destinations.

Each state winner will receive a blog-enabled website from OM4Tourism, plus free hosting, a design package and keyword analysis to kickstart their online marketing. The overall winner will also get a publicity campaign from PublicityShip, targeting national print and broadcast media, plus global online distribution.

And all entrants will benefit from coming to the attention of our prestigious panel of judges.

For 2008, we’re thrilled to be welcoming the Executive Producer of Channel 9’s Getaway travel show, John Walsh, to the panel, along with, Quentin Long, Publisher of Australian Traveller, and Les Cox, CEO of AAT Kings.

The entry procedure is straightforward and quick. Register your interest now and you’ll receive information shortly on how to enter. To register, go to our Hidden Jewel page and scroll down to fill out the form.

Getting publicity for your products

AusPen SiteGetting the media interested in products is hard, because editors and producers are looking for stories, and generating a story around a product can be quite a challenge.

Even when you have a great story, there’s a good chance your press release will be passed to the advertising department who will try to sell you ad space or advertorial.

Look at it from their point of view: why would a publication or program devote valuable space or airtime to promoting a product for free?

So what are the alternatives?

Think laterally

  • Send free samples to journalists and offer more for readers – editors find it hard to resist giving their readers something for free.
  • Generate quirky or appealing photo opportunities – animals and children always go down well.
  • Run a competition with your products as prizes – surf magazine SurfWest achieved great results by running a photographic competition just before launching their first issue.
  • If your product solves a problem, address this as an issue and ask the journo to print your web address at the end so that readers will then be led to your product online.

A great example of a product getting publicity by raising an issue is the Dove promotions that challenge our view of real beauty as a backlash against anorexic models.

Blog about it

In our experience, publicising products online is more effective than traditional press release campaigns. Here’s your chance to get the word out by blogging about your product.

Beware though – simply using your blog to promote your product will switch readers off almost instantly.

Tell stories and engage readers in a genuine conversation. Reckon you don’t have much to say about your product? Take a look at the AusPen site: these guys have been live for just a few months and have a Google PageRank of 3 thanks mainly to their regular posting of authoritative content about … whiteboard markers.

And guess what happens when you do a Google search for whiteboard markers in Australia – Auspen comes in just below Faber-Castell. Pretty good going.

As well as telling stories, encourage your readers to contribute ideas that you then take on board and run with, such as a label design or a product name (think McDonald’s Backyard Burger). Ask for genuine feedback – both positive and negative – and respond with genuine solutions.

There are huge opportunities here for businesses working with social (interactive) media.

User-generated reviews

It’s also vital for businesses to understand how peer reviews are becoming the most powerful marketing tool.

Computer World published this article about user-generated product reviews, showing the power of peer reviews in the marketing process.

Encourage satisfied customers to post reviews on user-generated product review sites such as ProductReview and CNET Reviews. To find the sites most relevant to your products, simply go to Google and search. Choose the sites that are easy to navigate and have a high PageRank.

There’s no trickery in this. If a customer genuinely likes your product enough to write you a testimonial, they’ll be happy to tap their review into a product forum.

Ads and advertorial will get you print coverage, but peer reviews are likely to knock these into a cocked hat in terms of results.

2 steps to getting journalists interested in your story

Rolled magazineOne of the hardest parts of publicity is finding a good strong message that leads to your story getting published.

We can spend hours banging our fists against our foreheads trying to find a good story about our business. And if the journos don’t run with it, the disappointment is hard to recover from.

Here’s a better way to find your media messages, and get journalists interested in you.

1. Allow stories about your business to emerge naturally from your day-to-day online marketing.

We know that one of the most effective ways for a small business to build trust is by continually publishing content. This means regarding your website as a magazine and you as the editor.

Along with new product or service launches, there are so many things you can talk about on your site – draw on your experience and expertise and offer advice, comment on issues that relate to your business, talk about trends, tell stories about clients who have succeeded (with their permission).

Once you get into the habit of doing this, media stories will begin to jump off the screen.

You’ll find yourself saying, that’s a damn good story I just published. I know my audience will love it, so it makes sense to give the media a chance to publish it.

2. As well as putting out the story as a press release, send journalists links to your blog or newsroom, so that they can pick up the stories that interest them.

Include high-resolution images (upload them in hi-res, insert a thumbnail on the page or post, and link it to the hi-res version for download), and they’ll love you even more.

This kind of resource is invaluable to journalists, and bringing them to your site enables them to see that you are an authority in your niche. Chances are they’ll come back for more.

5 ways to build trust through publicity

Anna Pollock of Desticorp recently highlighted the changes in the way consumers are making choices.

She quoted statistics from FutureLab that reveal the soaring mistrust of brands and advertising, and pointing to peer reviews as being the most trusted influence in the decision to buy:

“Peer reviews are preferred over expert reviews by a 6 to 1 margin,” she told us.

She also pointed to the change in what makes a successful brand. No longer are we looking to brands that express an identity or image. It seems we’re now looking for those that appeal to our aspirations: “how does this brand make the world a better place?” (Think IBM’s ‘You can innovate to make a difference’ and BP’s ‘green’ logo.)

This is reflected in the world of online marketing, where a business is more likely to succeed if it:

  • convinces us of its credibility through customer reviews, testimonials or stories, and
  • regularly publishes useful content that addresses our problems and aspirations (a flashy website dedicated purely to image is less likely to convert).

As consumers, we no longer rely on a one-way flow of information via static websites, ads, brochures etc. We look for peer reviews and someone who understands our problems or desires, and who is willing to help us by providing information and resources.

A conversation is taking place.

Underneath the conversation lies a series of supportive ‘resources’ – or products and services that bring the business its revenue. Trust in the business leads to acquisition of the customer – or sales.

This set me thinking about what this all means for PR, and publicity in particular.

Publicity has always been a way to create a story and inspire a conversation around a product or service, and this is why it’s becoming an increasingly important part of the marketing mix. It’s the closest form of marketing to word-of-mouth, which is the most trusted.

My advice is to give your audience what they’re looking for – a conversation around the relevant issues, with engaging stories from satisfied customers.

Here are my five ways to build trust through publicity:

  1. Steer clear of promotional messages. The journey is from conversation to conversion. Trying to sell during the conversation is similar to interruption advertising, and is less likely to succeed.
  2. Start a conversation by putting out interesting, newsworthy, issues-based messages.
  3. Find satisfied customers who are willing to be profiled or tell their aspirational and inspirational story.
  4. Put more stories and articles on your site and make them freely available to the media and your prospects.
  5. Be genuine and responsive in your intention to offer free advice and support through all your media channels (including your own site) – readers and listeners are becoming very good at sniffing out a fake, and will expect a conversation, not a pitch.

How many media contacts on your PR firm’s database?

Many PR firms or news distribution services will attempt to win your business by boasting a database of hundreds or thousands of media contacts. Impressed? You shouldn’t be.

Long Tail author, Chris Anderson, recently declared that he was fed up with being spammed by PR people, and had decided to block all but those who contact him for the right reasons:

“I only want two kinds of email: those from people I know, and those from people who have taken the time to find out what I’m interested in and composed a note meant to appeal to that,” says Anderson.

Here are responses from marketing gurus Seth Godin and David Meerman Scott, both of whom explain the value of keeping media contact lists small but targeted.

Some of the comments on Anderson’s post complained about the difficulty of tracking down media contacts and creating a tailored database. Much easier to buy a list and spam it. But Anderson’s response is a good example of why this is a bad idea.

As a former magazine editor, I can sympathise with the spammed, and this is one of the reasons we have established a policy of creating shorter, more targeted media lists and take the trouble to find out who to send our releases to.

Sometimes this is all but impossible and publications insist on all press releases being filtered through a ‘newsdesk’, and that’s their prerogative.

But when a PR agency takes the trouble to research publications and channels that match a press release with the audience demographic, build a targeted list, include a personalised email message to the top contacts showing how the release is relevant to the target audience, and encourage a dialogue, the results are much more impressive.

Online Marketing for Tourism – Our New Site

Blue starfishGlenn has just announced the launch of our new online marketing site, OM4.com.au. Now it’s my turn!

OM4Tourism.com is another brand new site dedicated to providing online marketing resources for small tourism businesses.

If this is you, take a look at the site and have a browse. It’s designed to help you decide what you need to be doing to get in front of of the rapidly increasing number of online browsers looking for travel experiences.

We have a series of articles, self-help guides and information on services we provide. For those who aren’t sure why online marketing matters so much, start by reading The New Rules of Online Marketing for Tourism.

I’m also encouraging lots of feedback, so don’t hesitate to leave comments, fill in our “Tell Us What You Think” form or email me.

Oh, and if you’re wondering why the starfish – this is emerging as our OM4Tourism symbol. The five legs correspond to the five online marketing tools we recommend: Keyword Analysis, Content Marketing, Search Marketing, Email Marketing and Affiliate Marketing.

All these – and how they apply to your marketing process – are explained in more detail on the new site.

Launching OM4 for our Online Marketing services

OM4 LogotypeBack in July 2006 Jane posted on the topic PublicityShip?. We had just changed our name from Release Writer (our first name, from March 2006) to PublicityShip.

We think small business publicity is very different to traditional PR, and deserves a better name.

Well online marketing is very different even to our ‘New Rules of Marketing & PR’ blend of online and offline publicity. So we are creating a new business name to operate under.

The new business is OM4. The name was chosen because its nice and short, and not hard to spell :)

OM4 is a good name because there are four powerful tools associated with online marketing:

  • Content Marketing
  • Search Marketing
  • Email Marketing
  • Affiliate Marketing

We haven’t forgotten Keyword Analysis, its just that we can’t give it a snappy name like the others (Keyword Marketing isn’t right). And then it would be OM5 (see below).

OM4 is also a good name because we could then launch OM4Tourism, which is of course Online Marketing For Tourism. This is where we apply everything we know about online marketing to help smaller tourism operators get their story out to the world. Jane will do a full post launching OM4Tourism soon.

So if you are interested in improving your online marketing, subscribe to OM4 by email or RSS. I’ll be doing a series of posts designed to help business owners and those responsible for running online marketing to understand what resources are available to them, and how they can get more value out of their online marketing efforts.

Also what do you think of our new OM4 logo? What does it say to you, could it be improved?