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PR on a Shoestring Budget
(Marketing Memo, April, 2003)

With fewer resources available, marketing departments are relying more on PR, email, and phone calls and less on expensive ads and direct mail. At the March 11, 2003, Marketing Roundtable, a group of reporters and experienced marketing professionals(1) suggested less expensive ways to make an impression on the press.

  • Use case studies to demonstrate that your new products are truly HOT. Be sure to answer key questions: For whom are the products useful? What problem do they solve? How do they solve the problems? Who has already used the product successfully? The offering must be compelling, and it should practically speak for itself. The case studies should be on "lighthouse" customers, that is, customers with implementations that can serve as a beacon to other customers.
  • Craft consistent, but differentiated, messages for each constituency. Bad news communiqués should consist of an honest presentation of the facts and what you are doing to remedy the problem. Send targeted messages to the press, employees, and stockholders. Designate a spokesperson who will be available to answer questions.
  • Use the different constituencies to generate word-of-mouth publicity. Well-informed, committed employees can be effective spokespeople for your organization.
  • Research which publications and reporters have already written about your niche or your technology. What are their preferences? Then, email press releases to the 15-20 publications and/or reporters that have a particular interest in your offering rather than firing off hundreds of press releases to anonymous reporters.
  • Provide a context for your press release. How does your company fit into the big picture? What are the latest trends in your sector?
  • Use carefully crafted email messages to reach reporters. Draft compelling headings, and compose openings that state your main point and grab your readers' attention.

Winett Associates can help you write case studies and white papers that get notices and also conduct market research.

(1) Cliff Conneighton, Conneighton Group LLC; Larry Weber, Interpublic Group; Bill Bulkeley, Wall Street Journal; Eric Lundquist, e-Week; Jim Malone, Mass High Tech; Richard Eckel, Groove Networks; D.C. Denison, The Boston Globe (See www. marketing roundtable.org).

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