Whether it's a magazine write-up, a mention on a major website or TV exposure, there's not much that gives you more bang for your buck than a good publicity "hit." And you can make that bang a lot louder by incorporating your priceless press into a bigger marketing picture.
You might use an agency or, as my company does -- either way, getting good press is a non-stop, challenging effort. So when you do get a hit, don't just let it speak for itself and then fade away. You can make the value of a magazine or newspaper mention go way beyond the day or month it's on the rack, or a TV moment last much longer than a moment.
As for online content, although it "lasts forever" and links to your site have tremendous long-term value, every story is swept up and diluted in a sea of new data fairly quickly. And there is much you can do to maximize its impact.
Many small businesses squander their PR. They either don't monitor it, don't spread the word when they do track it or don't get creative about giving it "longer legs." The PR still has intrinsic value, of course, but it can have so much more.
Here are four ways to up the value of your hard-earned publicity:
1. Post it up. Don't miss a single opportunity to call attention to quality press. Make sure you have a news page on your website and always, always keep it current. Having a stale news page sends a worse signal than having no news page. Mention it in blog and Facebook posts, tweets and any other social media you use.
2. Pack it up. Every tag you put on a product and every box you ship out is a little messenger going out into the world to speak for your product and your company. Look for opportunities to incorporate worthwhile press into these communicators. Perhaps for a couple of months, put stickers on outbound packages saying, "Gizmo Guide Weekly says there's a 'really clever product' in this box."
3. Hang it up. if you have a physical retail or service location, prominently display your significant press accomplishments just as you do certificates and awards. They are every bit as important and they're tremendous credibility builders.
4. Talk it up. Think of all of the ways you reach out and touch people every day, and see if you can incorporate some of your good press into otherwise mundane communications. Include your company's most prestigious award in your (nicely designed) email signature line and put a strong pull-quote or media accolade ("2011 editor's choice") at the top of your invoices. Talk about it in your print or online newsletter. And always share it with employees and encourage them to spread the word about the good work they're doing.
A very important caveat: Most established media outlets have restrictions (some more strict than others) about reproduction of their content. Magazines, for example, have always sold reprints as one of their revenue streams, and, although it is not as common as it used to be, if your business is covered in an article you may get a call from an agency hired by the publication to sell rights and reprints. Some outlets allow the excerpting of articles, with proper citation. Some don't care and are happy to have you spread the word, especially if you link back to them online.
Generally speaking, you can quote, with proper citation and without modification, an accurate, excerpted comment made about you ("WidgetTalk Magazine says 'Acme widgets are the best we've tested'") but when it comes to reproduction -- and certainly redistribution -- of complete content, you need to be aware and respectful of rights and restrictions, and proceed accordingly.
Be creative, be proud of your accomplishments and be aggressive about spreading the good word. But as with all marketing and self-promotion, do so with good judgment and tact. There is a big difference between a nicely laid-out page of media quotes and a gaudy site with flashing trophy clip art. Buzz your buzz, but don't cross the line between tasteful promotion and overblown boastfulness.
Think of PR (a little bit) like compounding interest: The initial publicity hit is your principal, and if you just let it be you'll have some value, but it will will diminish over time. But by "investing" that principal using other marketing tools, you increase its worth and make it go further.
Image courtesy of Flickr user khawkins04.