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Five PR Tips for Headline-Grabbing Profits

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Your business is growing, but every time you open the newspaper, power up the iPad or turn on the TV, you see your competitors instead of your brand.

If your company has a great story, or needs one, follow this checklist to make an impressive first impression.

1. Watch, research, friend, and follow every outlet and person you are pitching, and don't pitch without knowing who they are and what they write about. Set up a Google alert for your news or product theme, and take advantage of alerts offered by individual media outlets. For example, I work on a lot of fitness clients, so every time a New York Times article comes out with the words "exercise", "fitness" or "workout" comes out, I know. I read it, get the writer's information, I retweet it, comment on it and reference it in my pitches. I also tailor the topic and angle to each outlet. Seems daunting? See tip 2.

2. Don't get blogged down. Limit your outreach to your top 10-20 outlets. Make a wish list based on outlet size, what your customers engage in, and that will provide a return on investment. It is nice to have 1,000 bloggers writing about you, but you will spend so much time responding to their interviews and product requests, that you won't have time to pitch your top 10. There ARE great blogs that will result in hits to your site, but there are more that won't. Limit your list for limitless sales.

3. Working Website: When you have a big national story running, make sure your IT guys have had their coffee. I once had a client on Rachael Ray and all the traffic from the exposure crashed their site. (This might sound too basic, but you would be surprised.) Make sure that your product can be purchased online, preferable on your own website. If that is not possible, clearly state how customers can get the item at a brick-and-mortar store by putting in their zip code. Journalists do not like it when their readers have to write back to them saying, "I read your article and I went to the website but it doesn't say where I can buy one." If the product exists on another company's site, link directly to that page on your own site with a "buy now" button, so that a print reporter can just list your website in the coverage. Have your website looking crisp, with the company boilerplate ready and your founders' bios perfected. On the home page, display an opt-in button for your blog or newsletter, in order to capture email addresses, and provide something free in return. When people sign up, ask where they heard about you so that you can track how your media coverage translates into leads, not just sales.

4. Video: If possible, have a video on your website home page that tells your story briefly, and shows that your spokesperson is great on TV. When pitching your story, the producers and editors want to see how the spokesperson performs on camera, and how the product or service works. Here at Regan Communications, we produce original demo videos for our clients to show your story on your very own YouTube channel like YouTube.com/YourBrandName. A good example of using a client demo to book them on TV, is a client of ours named AbTech Industries that was just named on Fast Company's 100 Most Creative Companies list for 2012. See what they do and how they do it by watching this basic demo video. We pitched this video to producers and it helped to book the founder, Glenn Rink, on Good Morning America, Fox News Channel, Planet Green, WCBS and many other outlets.

5. Choose your partners wisely. When partnering with a marketing firm, ad agency, or public relations specialists, chose firms that are big enough to have the right connections and experience, but not so big that you get lost among their larger clients. Make sure their staff has been with the company for several years, and ask to only meet with the people who would be servicing the account on a daily basis. Find out how long the company has been in business and if they are growing. Choose PR, ad and marketing firms that provide a reliable retainer each month, not one that bills by 15-minute increments, so that your costs are predictable. Ask for client and media references, to be introduced to the media, to sit in on creative meetings, and include your partner agency in yours. Don't be afraid to take their advice and attach yourself to news stories, trends, and pop culture. Keep yourself relevant and your company's story will always stay fresh.

Your competitors will soon be reading about you.