Making Money on Ingenio: Publicize Yourself and Your Service
Want more people to know you're on Ingenio? Publicize yourself through your local press! Here's everything you need to know about starting a publicity campaign in your hometown.
Let's start by reviewing some crucial public relations terms:
What is Public Relations?
Public relations is anything you do to promote yourself in your community using the media. Public relations is an easy way to grow your business, requiring only a little time and money (the cost of phone calls, paper, copies, faxes, etc.).
What is Media Relations?
Media relations is the relationship you develop with the media and the ways in which you communicate with them.
If you research who to contact at your local paper, weekly magazine or TV station, then call these reporters, tell them about your service on Ingenio, and offer them unique, newsworthy reasons to write a story about you, that is considered media relations.
Why are public relations and media relations important?
Public relations and media relations are good ways to make potential customers aware of your business and show existing customers that you're active in your community. We've found that advisors who are active in their communities get more calls and have more loyal customers who spread the word to their friends!
Other terms to know:
Let's talk about the different types of media you'll want to contact about your business on Ingenio. It's important to know something about your local media before you begin contacting them.
Print media includes newspapers, magazines, journals and newsletters.
Television may be a more difficult media outlet to place your story, since local stations tend to cover more "breaking" news. We recommend that you start by contacting radio if you're interested in broadcast coverage.
Radio stations' peak times for radio news programs, called "drive time," occur in the morning between 6:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m., when listeners are driving to work, and evenings from 4:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m., when listeners are driving home. Drive time is when radio stations announce the most news items and interview the most guests. A broadcast reporter or producer will often tape or develop a story the same day it airs. Radio can be easier than television to approach, because they have more air time to fill.
Here are some materials you can use when contacting the media.
How do you create a media list?
It's easy -- just spend time reading, watching and listening to your area's major news media outlets until you've figured out which reporters are most likely to cover your story. You can also call the media outlet's main number and ask if they can tell you who covers a certain topic. They may even give you a specific reporter's phone number and email address.
Try to get as much contact information as possible about each reporter you hope to contact. Eventually, your media list should include the reporters' and editors' name, title, publication or broadcast outlet, address, phone, fax number, email address and sometimes notes on the type of stories ("beats") they cover.
Business Cards - A business card will show reporters that you're serious about your business and give them an easy way to hold onto your contact info. In addition to giving your card to the media with your other material, you can also hand them out at your workplace, weekend events, fairs, family gatherings, and trade shows.
Before calling a reporter, think about what you're going to say. Watch this reporter's stories, think about his or her beat, and write your pitch accordingly. What makes your story interesting? What pitch will they find irresistible?
Tie in with a theme or season. Think of appropriate themes or times of year that you can add to your pitch, giving reporters another reason to cover you.
Work the local angle. Pay close attention to how the local media covers current events in your city.
Your first contact with the media could be a faxed or emailed press release, or perhaps a short email note followed a few days later by a phone call. When you email a reporter, be sure to include the text of the press release in the body of your email, not as an attachment. Most people won't open attachments from someone they don't know, to avoid possible computer viruses.
Calling the media. When you contact the media by phone, you've only got one quick shot at selling your story. Even if you've sent material in advance, you can never assume reporters know what you're talking about; chances are, they haven't even looked at what you sent them! So when you're talking to reporters, your first goal has to be getting their attention.
Getting a reporter's attention. When you call a reporter, remember that you're only one of dozens of people who will be pitching stories to him or her that day. So be creative, concise and informative, and stick to your topic! The best way to ensure that your pitch will be quick, efficient and skillful is to practice it in advance, perhaps by pitching your spouse or a trusted friend.
Know reporters' deadlines - and respect them. Make sure you get your materials to reporters far enough in advance to allow them time to review the material and do whatever follow-up they want to do.
Don't pitch a reporter who is on deadline. After introducing yourself, your first question when you reach a reporter by phone should be "Is this a good time for you?" They'll tell you if it isn't, and hopefully either suggest a good time to call back or ask you to email them instead.
Here are some possible reporter deadlines to keep in mind before you make phone calls:
A good time to begin calling is 10:00 a.m., when most reporters get to work. Try to make your calls early in the week, when weeklies and news bureaus haven't quite decided their stories for the week. Set up a call schedule to make sure you don't catch reporters when they're on deadline.
Keep selling the story. Once you have their attention, sell, sell, sell! Run through a list of angles on a script in front of you when you're on the phone. Pay attention to what works and what doesn't and adjust your script accordingly over time.
"No" means "no." Most reporters will hear you out. They know how to say "no" if they can't or don't want to do the story. Don't persist or pester them; you'll just find it harder to get them to listen to you next time. If they say no, immediately thank them for their time, and ask if you can write or call them again in a few months if a new story "angle" comes up that might interest them. Reporters will appreciate the care you take not to waste their time - and it will just be easier to get them on the phone at a later date, when they might feel differently about your story.
When a reporter does your story, or a closely related story, lay off for a while. But do send a personal note after the story comes out. Don't say "thank you" as if the reporter did you a favor - thank them for doing a good job in covering the story.
Update your media list with new contacts. If a reporter tells you that he isn't interested in your story, ask if there's someone else who might be, get that person's contact info and update your media list!
If a reporter is interested in your story, he or she will want to conduct an interview. Here are some tips for mastering this part of the publicity process.
Offer a tour of www.ingenio.com. It can help the story if you get the reporter and/or photographer to visit your Ingenio home page or listings page and try a call with you.
Remain calm and in control at all times. While a reporter may ask you hard questions or be rude, it is important that you remain pleasant and calm at all times.
Ask when the story will run. Notify Ingenio PR at [email protected] so they can be on the lookout.
After a positive story appears, send the reporter a short thank you note with your business card. It's very important to maintain good, long-term relationships with reporters.
Alert about your interview. Regardless of whether you need assistance, let Ingenio know that you've talked with the media by emailing us at [email protected]
And finally, good luck publicizing your business!
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