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Publication Date: 07/1/2009
Archive >  July 2009 Issue >  Management > 

Getting the Most for your Marketing Dollar

Having worked as a trade publications editor, I have seen a lot of press releases come across my desk; but I have also been on the other side of the publishing trade for many years, sending them out to editors, so I have seen the best of both worlds. Should you send news releases out to the press? Of course, for the same reasons that you should combine them with an advertising program. Here's why.

Bringing in more sales for your company is only possible when you have more inquiries, which results from a more visible presence in the marketplace and heightened awareness about what your company has to offer and the advantages of your technology to the user. The trade press is the fastest and surest avenue to that in any industry, which is why I've focused in that area for the past 20 years and more.

Small Marketing Budgets
Small companies may not have big marketing budgets, but they do have products, applications, innovations and developments, and things that their target marketplace should know about. To me — and to the trade press — this is bona fide news. If I'm in charge of marketing communications, then it's my job to make these product developments into news and get them to the trade press editors. These editors welcome news, but they want it in the right format — professionally crafted press releases, industrial journalism, not sales puff, badly-written material, or stuff that needs to be figured out and rewritten. They don't have time for that; there are too many news items competing for the editor's attention and space in the magazine.

Press releases are inexpensive as a program when compared to display advertising in glossy magazines or other types of marketing media. They are effective, and work on the same principles as advertising, i.e., it's all about frequency. A small monthly fractional ad is more effective than a full-page ad run once a year. Similarly, regular press releases, e.g., one per month, are effective but over the long term — say 3 to 6 months after a program starts. Little benefit comes from 2 — 3 news releases or ads per year; it's not enough to get the marketplace familiar with you.

Properly-prepared press releases are welcomed and published. The editors will provide hyperlinks to the subject company's web site and contact information, etc. This is important because no matter how well-designed a web site you have, a web site is passive; no one finds you unless they are looking for you. So the job of PR and display advertising is to drive people to your web site through exposure. You can also get them there through advertising in e-media such as online industrial newsletter ads (banner or tile or whatever) with embedded links for the customers clicking on your ad.

Publicity Is Free
Editors do not charge to publish press releases, generally. Major publications do not, but sometimes small niche publications or publications belonging to a trade group will, or will require membership, etc. PR mavens generally do not worry about them because there are enough large mainstream publications out there that will pick up the news. Sometimes, if you are a member of a trade association that publishes a journal, the PR manager will make sure that they get your release because they will publish their members' news.

Why do editors publish press releases? Because it is news and these magazines need to report on what is happening in the industry. But unlike paid ads, there are no guarantees that a press release will be picked up by a magazine; it is up to the editor to decide the worth of the material to his or her readership. This is why, in addition to the professional crafting of press releases, PR people also seek to build a relationship between our technology clients and the magazine editors themselves. As a PR person, I say that we want them to know you and be familiar with you so that a symbiotic relationship develops and in turn a higher pickup rate as well as other exposure opportunities (guest columns, white papers, surveys, etc.) develop in time.

Maxing Out the Exposure
If each press release takes up, with photo, 1/6 page, and you are featured in 4 publications, you have the combined total of a 2/3 page ad — perhaps $3,000 worth of space on an average advertising rate card — and reached 50,000 pairs of eyes or more in your target audience. This is real and not virtual, which is why a PR program is very effective.

Of course, the honeymoon doesn't last forever; eventually, publications expect a company to support the trade press by reciprocating, i.e., advertising; after all, advertising pays the bills and pays their salaries. They aren't fools, though; they recognize, collectively (and in any industry, all the editors pretty much know each other fairly well) that you cannot advertise in all the publications (or even sometimes more than one, especially if you are a small outfit), or advertise heavily. Sometimes just a little here and there is enough, and they will collectively continue to support you, because you are doing your part. If you are growing remarkably and make no secret about it, they will expect you to advertise more aggressively. But this works to your benefit; combined advertising and PR programs are greater in terms of effectiveness than the sum of either part. The more you advertise, the more business you will generate, so it is about a lot more than goodwill.

The cost of a PR or simply a press release campaign is comparatively low. Wire services such as PR Newswire, for example, charge as an example $325 to write a plain-vanilla 400-word release (about one page, and they don't know your industry, products, proper terminology, etc.) and will then distribute it for another $460 on up, but to a list that is usually poorly targeted or very wide in scope.

In a niche industry such as SMT, you should instead build a targeted list for your company — always the best approach. It takes research and time, it's a bit tedious, and should always involve pre-contact with editors before just throwing stuff at them electronically. Take the time to ask them if they would accept press announcements from your company, tell them about your company and listen to their requirements if they say "yes". Your news will be much better received. And when you get the inevitable call from their display advertising sales people, don't blow them off, see what they have to offer and consider it in your overall marketing plans.

Contact: Mike Martel, MMC Inc., Public Relations, 16 Birchwood Drive, Bristol, RI 02809 401-480-3433 fax: 401-253-7353 E-mail: Web: 

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