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Become the News During the Summer Months

Jul 2, 2008
Now's your chance. While the public relations professionals are off enjoying their hard-earned vacations during the next month or two, media are left scrambling for much needed copy and story ideas. Give them what they're looking for!

In July and August reporters are more accessible and open to lighter business stories, trend pieces, technology news, back-to-school and education themes, travel features and creative, fun releases related to entertainment. In September, the public relations and agency reps will be back at work making it more difficult to capture the attention of a busy editor, so make hay while the pros are away!

One way to capture the attention of editors and reporters, and ultimately customers and prospects that read or hear about your news through the media, is to tie into current events. Think about the upcoming Tour de France. Running from Saturday July 5 to Sunday July 27, 2008, the 95th Tour de France will cover a total distance of 3,500 kilometers including flat stages, mountain stages and individual time-trial stages.

During the 23-day event cyclists from around the world will compete for the top spot. Whatever the outcome, you can tie into this news. Plan your strategy now. A few ideas:

1. An ear, nose and throat physician can easily tie into the Tour and share his/her expertise related to the facial injuries bikers typically suffer when they go head over heels over their handlebars. Newspapers and web sites love these stories. So do prospects searching for a specialist and current patients who hear about their doctor in the news. And they'll remember that story long after the Tour de France cyclists complete their 21-stage odyssey.

2. Bike stores can tie into the tour with special "Tour de France" promotions, discounts and contests. People love contests. So do the media. They're fun, and they're one of the best ways to get publicity without spending money on paid advertising. Brainstorm every possible angle, then run with it throughout the summer as you highlight contestants and winners.

3. Bed & breakfast inns and hotels can tie into the Tour with special rates and organized rides for bicyclists. Develop a news release that focuses on recreation, tourism and low-cost, self-propelled excursions while also featuring an individual, couple or family enjoying some R&R. Readers love to see themselves in others who are having fun and experiencing success.

4. Wine shops can tie into the event by featuring special Tour de France wine and cheese gatherings with a discount on French wines. A special basket filled with wine, cheese, appetizer, croissant and tablecloth could provide the essentials for the perfect picnic.

5. Children's toy stores can tie into the Tour de France by offering special promotions on helmets and bikes. Imagine photos of kids in their new helmets or at a kids' bicycle safety event. It may be just the ticket needed to fill a hole in an area newspaper or a 30-second spot on the evening news. Any published news or photos could also be displayed throughout the store.

6. Organizations working on a fundraising campaign or event can tie into the Tour by telling donors or registrants that a percentage of each donation/registration will be sent to the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Everyone wants to support a good cause, and the Lance Armstrong Foundation has done an exceptional job in funding education and research in the fight against cancer.

7. Restaurants can offer Tour discounts on pasta, pancakes or other carbo items being devoured by Tour de France cyclists.

You get the picture. Think current events, establish a hook, and create targeted, benefit-rich releases to tout your new product, event, special promotion or cause. Bring your news to life with explanations, anecdotes and quotes that delight both media and prospects, and include the practical facts such as prices, times, web URLs, and phone numbers that enable media and prospects to contact you to learn more or to place an order. Add a headline that piques interest yet makes the gist of your story clear so that media gatekeepers pay attention.

Once written, leverage your news. Brainstorm ways to get each story into the hands of customers and prospects. Post news to your website the same day it is distributed offline. Send an email blast to your list. Frame and display the published story in your lobby.

Summer truly is the time to work with the plethora of burgeoning media hungry for news. Those who devote time, energy and imagination will garner plenty of publicity that translates into brand awareness and increased sales on a shoestring budget.
About the Author
Certified Marketing Spitfire Leslie Hamp is the creator of Business Boost In A Box. To learn more about the step-by-step program, and to sign up for your *FREE* Marketing Mastery Success Kit, visit www.boostyourbottomline.com
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