How to keep from wasting money on publicity

I’ve been talking to quite a few clients lately about the publicity strategy:  Will it help me grow my business?  How do I know if it’s the right strategy for me?  How do I choose a good publicist?

Publicity (we call it a “Stacking Strategy” because it super-charges a solid core marketing strategy) is typically implemented by hiring either a press release writer, a publicist, or an article submissions admin to generate media coverage (broadcast media interviews or publication in online / print media) for your platform (book, consulting, expert status, etc).

There are so many factors that determine your success with the publicity strategy.  First, say you are interviewed by a high-profile news program like the CBS Evening News.  Can you expect your phone to ring with new business?  How do you leverage this exposure?  What can you expect if the Wall Street Journal prints one of your articles?

Media coverage rarely causes your phone to ring with people wanting to hire you. If you get a couple of calls, you’re lucky.  If you’ve hired a publicist on a monthly retainer, it can cost you thousands of dollars for your 2 minutes of fame, with virtually nothing to show for it in the end.

Print media, especially the reprint of your articles, tend to be more effective at generating traffic for your website.  It’s important to note that print media is typically better at selling books than services (speeches, consulting, etc).  Very few independent professionals get their money’s worth (ie making back the money they invested) from hiring publicists (sorry, my sweet publicity friends).  You’re better off hiring a reputable expert to write or edit your article for print / internet media and to submit it.  Expect to pay between $250 to $500 per article.  Want to triple or quadruple the number of publications that print your article? Follow up your email / fax blitz with a phone call to the top 50 editors on the list.

Getting an article printed is kind of like getting your bachelor’s degree:  it’s nice to hang the certificate on your wall, but your phone isn’t going to start ringing with high-paying job offers.  It’s up to you to leverage the degree when you’re applying for jobs.  The same with a print article:  you can leverage the fact that you’ve been published by USA Today or appeared on the CBS Evening News to build your credibility as you actively market your services.

I don’t recommend that any of my clients implement the publicity strategy unless they have a strong attraction strategy coupled with a strong Marketing Gameplan that is generating interested, qualified prospects.  The publicity strategy will not save your business! It’s a great accomplice to a growing business that is getting some good traction in the marketplace, but it will not initiate new traction or momentum by itself.