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Creating PR Opportunities on Slow Days
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 Dittus Communications

by Roni M. Singleton
Dittus Communications

Usually public relations professionals have two goals in mind when leveraging media and PR for a client:  Raise the client's visibility and enhance the client's business goals. But how does even the most out-of-the-box thinker make old news sexy? Or does a PR person simply continue to churn out press releases about a once hot topic, like technology whose industry is waning? Options

When your company doesn't have anything newsworthy to report, don't waste time pulling together an expensive press conference about nothing.  Instead here are some suggestions on how to use your time and your client's wallet more effectively and efficiently. Think more strategically, and try some of the techniques below.

Rethink press releases:  Drafting and getting press releases approved can be extremely time consuming. Too often they end up on a Web site (a potential black hole) where media may never see it unless they are already familiar with your company. Instead why not prepare a brief bio of your client or company with a list of "hot topics" the CEO or a manager can discuss.  Send these out to producers and reporters with a short note asking to add your expert to their Rolodex.

Op-eds/articles:  If your clients have expertise on a specific subject, try drafting an op-ed for them, or encourage them to write an article targeted to their audience. Perhaps an editor would be interested in featuring a regular column from your client.

Speaking opportunities: Look for upcoming seminars/conferences for the target audience of your client company. Draft speaker proposals and submit them to conference organizers that might benefit from your client's expertise.

Roundtable discussions:  Suggest that your company initiate a roundtable or teach a one-day seminar -- perhaps for free -- providing valuable information to potential and current clients.  It's a great way for your client to garner some new business and for you to reap event publicity!

Online media: Research and develop lists of online mainstream publications such as The New York Times and USA Today, and also popular sites read by target business audiences.

Desk-side visits: Yes, there are a still a few journalists who have time to meet with you or someone within your organization -- particularly if your company can offer information for a story the reporter is currently working on.  Find a handful of key journalists that cover your industry regularly and who you would like to get to know you better.  This is an effective way to build credibility and get your organization quoted.

Host regular lunches for reporters:  These lunches are designed to introduce a specific reporter to a company, and they give you an opportunity to present some current and upcoming activities or products.

Third-party opportunities: Read, Read, Read.  Make sure you are aware of what's happening in the news everyday.  If you do not have access to a television in your office, bookmark news sites relevant to your organization. If you represent a company that can discuss airline safety after two planes nearly collide at a major airport, make sure all of the major dailies and networks have a backgrounder on your guy.

Community work: An easy way to gain quick exposure is to provide a community service.  Such work is often quite "promotable" and allows your company to be known as a good corporate citizen among peer companies.  Think pro bono.

Take advantage of the days when your company doesn't have news to report, and flex your creative muscle.  Use some of the techniques above to create media opportunities that will warrant ink, even when your news day is slow.

Roni M. Singleton is a director in the Marketing Communications department at Dittus Communications, one of Washington's 
leading marketing and public affairs firms.

Article republished with permission from PR FUEL, 
a weekly PR tips E-newsletter at

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