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Generate Online Publicity

Nov 19, 2007
The tools available on today's internet magnify the viral aspects of marketing. Social bookmarking and the online social networks can elevate a clever gimmick to global exposure within hours. It can be so dramatic that a few servers have been known to melt when pushed to 100% CPU utilization for extended periods. So the question is: what can you do to generate that type of publicity?

The most obvious answer is to do something controversial. By definition, exactly what that is can't be simply described. If it was a formula-driven activity, everyone would do it and it would no longer be controversial. True creativity will dictate which stunts will succeed and which will fail. But a mere consciousness of the objective can increase the odds of a good idea drifting into your mind.

Once crafted, it only takes 10 minutes on Digg or Delicious or StumbleUpon and you could have thousands of visitors at your website. Indeed, if its truly clever, word could spread around the world in an hour or less.

Another approach might be to conduct a survey and then publish the results on your website. Done properly, surveys are more intriguing than ever. There's so much hype out there that people no longer know who or what to believe. A clear and well-crafted survey can yield some fascinating statistics and insights on a particular subject.

You might read this suggestion and immediately expect significant costs and time to complete such a survey but nothing could be further from the truth. Nobody said you had to do a full scientific process. You can create a short list of questions and stand out on a street corner during lunch hour and approach twenty people. Already with such a small sample size, you can get a good idea how the population feels about one topic or another.

This could be an activity you do on a regular basis, each time reporting the results on your website. In fact, you could look at Yahoo Buzz and get an idea what people are searching for on a particular day, draft a list of 10 questions to do with that topic, conduct the survey, post the results and then announce it on Digg, Delicious and StumbleUpon. Doing so could regularly drive a flood of traffic to your website.

Depending on the seriousness of the subject, you could also send out a press release on one of the major wire services, announcing the survey results to a broader audience. Make sure the topic is timely and your title catchy before you send it out. Bland press releases quickly get buried on wire services. But a well written announcement can get picked up all across the country and beyond.

Some people are naturally better at the publicity game than others. Truthfully, I'm not the best at it. But these pointers can help just about anyone (including me) get a few success stories under my belt. Sit down, get creative and find something you can exploit to peak the interest of people all over the internet. If you hit something hot, it can change your business overnight.
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