About Vickie Sullivan
Vickie Sullivan is internationally recognized as the top market strategist for thought leaders, professional speakers and B2B professional service firms. Specializing in brand and message strategies in crowded markets, she has helped thousands of talented people outsmart their competition since 1987.
Written by: LMiller | October 01, 2010
White Noise, Part 2: 3 Publicity Campaigns That Cut Through the Clutter
Originally published for RainToday.com
In part 1 of this two-part article series, 3 Changes that Impact Your Publicity Efforts, we explored changes that impact our media campaigns. Now that we know what is less effective, let’s focus on what to do next. Instead of simply conducting campaigns and hoping for the best, let’s implement strategies that will drive traffic to our website, generate leads, and, yes, create more opportunities.
Here are three publicity models that catch fire in the media. These campaigns are as effective as they are clever. They are designed to not only stand out from the white noise but also to inspire action and increase response. You can use a publicist or apply a bit of elbow grease and implement them yourself.
Top 10 Lists
I love top 10 lists. They have been around for eons because they are such a powerful tool. Here’s why: the list turns your content from conceptual information into something specific. If done right, top 10 lists can make your expertise portable, relevant, and intriguing. The problem: many experts play way too small here.My favorite trick: make the scope very narrow. Don’t do generic lists such as “top 10 mistakes leaders make”. That’s too subjective. Instead, link your findings to an environment you want to redefine and penetrate. The more specific it is the better.That’s what consulting firm Next Generation Consulting did a few years back. It created a top 10 list of cities that attract high-end workers. The Hot Jobs/Cool Communities campaign not only showcased their finger-on-the-pulse brand but also introduced their value to economic development groups. This market segment had plenty of money to invest in promotion, so CEO Rebecca Ryan’s speaking calendar exploded (with higher fees) and great assignments followed.
Another thing Rebecca did right was she created her own benchmarks and used government data to create the list. That boosted her originality and made the list less subjective. If you own the benchmarks, you own the findings.
The second thing that separates the excellent from the good is the aesthetics. We are in the age of multimedia, and lists are no exception. The best format is a slideshow with great photos. Short, clever writing is a given now as well. The best templates are done by publications. Copy that layout and you’ll be fine.
Yes, contests. I get the strangest reactions when I suggest this strategy, but it works. Publications have used contests for years to engage readers. Why are competitions such an effective tool now? Thank all those reality and makeover TV shows. We have developed a morbid curiosity about worlds we don’t have access to. The campaigns also tap into the “anybody can win” hope that we all have. These shows have pushed contests into the spotlight; let’s take advantage of the hype.This strategy is a perfect way to engage via social media, where games are plentiful. The biggest misconception here is that B-to-B experts can’t play. Contests can come in all sizes–the scope can be narrow, even with a particular industry or department.Example: say you are a wellness expert who promotes healthy programs at the workplace. The biggest challenge is getting people to participate. A solution could be a national contest for the most weight lost by company. And the winning organization gets a cool experience, such as having a celebrity chef come in and fix them a nutritious lunch. (Think celebrity chefs won’t take your call? Find one who’s promoting their latest cookbook and see what they say.) Of course, you accept videos charting their journey. And of course, the videos are linked to your website and on your YouTube Channel for all to admire. Think that will get you web traffic and inquiries? You bet it will.Another way to use contests is through industry associations. What better way to join forces with an influential association than to create a contest that you both promote? Before you pitch the idea, have the campaign well thought out. And make it as easy as possible for the association. Any extra work or new system could be met with resistance from overworked staff. Plug-and-play campaigns will have the inside edge.Two things to keep in mind if you go this route:1.The competition has to be open to everyone and the rules clearly spelled out. The last thing you want is a backlash when someone cries “foul”.2. Make the prize bigger than you. This is critical. Unless you are already famous, your services are not enough of a draw. The media–even industry media–have to be excited about the prize. And don’t think you have to pay big bucks for the prize either. Join forces with someone exciting who is looking for promotion and the contest will be a match made in heaven.
Survey or Research Findings
This model has been around a long time and is another tool that isn’t used to its fullest potential. It has worked in the past because too few firms did original research. Now that surveys are easy to create, media outlets have their pick of studies.The number one reason why most research gets ignored is that the findings are not newsworthy. If the study doesn’t uncover something new, what’s the point in alerting the media? Just any coverage won’t brand you as an original voice.It’s time for us to get creative. Almost every study has some surprises, so lead with that. Two more of my favorite tactics:1. The “one step further” idea, when you piggyback on conventional wisdom by answering why or giving information previously unknown.2. The “color commentary” angle, where you provide interpretations behind the statistics. The best articles on studies also include colorful responses on the open-ended questions.The tools for the top 10 lists also work with research findings. HubSpot’s chart of the week has great examples of making research come alive by narrowing the scope of the question as well as providing a compelling visual.In this crowded marketplace, professional service firms need all the media attention they can get. With these ideas, your campaign will get more responses from media outlets and with that, more prominence and, yes, even more leads.