Feeling uninspired? Take a look at this quick list of some ways you can build a little buzz for your business.
1. Create an event with the intent of making it a national holiday and submit it to Chase’s Calendar of Events. Example: A cooking store could create a national “Cook with Your Family Day,” which could be publicized and celebrated annually. An accounting firm could establish and submit “Financial Health Day,” and so on. Having an official day gives you a terrific platform to use for all kinds of buzz-building activities behind an event. For “Financial Health Day,” the accountant could speak to high school students and hand out tips on creating financial health. The press could be invited. Photos and video taken. Press release issued. Everything shared digitally and so on.
Go to http://www.mhprofessional.com/templates/chases for more information on submitting Chase’s Calendar of Events.
Set up a unique URL for your day, like http://nationaldaylightday.com which we set up for our client Solatube International and National Daylight Appreciation Day.
2. As a complementary aspect of an event or a stand-alone piece itself, try putting a panel of experts together. You can either serve as a panelist or the facilitator. Select a topic that is timely and receiving news coverage and make it open to the public at whatever venue you select (community center, auditorium, etc.). Invite the press and go through your buzz checklist: photos, video, press release, share everything with social media, post on your site, upload your video to YouTube and so on. Collect attendees’ info for your database.
3. Subscribe to the free journalist query emails, which list various requests for sources for news stories. The requests give basic information, deadline and link to respond to the query. The emails are daily and loaded with opportunities of every imaginable kind. The best one is Help A Reporter Out: http://www.helpareporter.com.
4. Turn a mundane activity into something that really gets people’s attention. One of my mentors, Patricia Drain, shared the best one I have heard yet about a company moving across the street in New York. They hired a marching band to draw attention and company business cards and literature were passed out during the move to the many people who had gathered to watch. Of course, the news media covered it and the company sales increased as a result of the positive attention.
5. Create your own custom event that sets you apart from others. I worked with Tiffany & Co. in San Diego when it made its debut there. Among other things, we held a “Table Manners for Teens” event periodically. Mothers and their teens were invited to the store to learn (the teens, not the mothers) how tables were set, which utensils to use, where the bread plate is located, etc. They were treated to a meal and private shopping in the store. This was an event unique to Tiffany & Co. and something I have not seen offered elsewhere. I love the idea of a pet store holding a pet parade that invites dog owners to dress their dogs in costume and include them in the parade, which would finish at the pet store with treats for all. This is a great, visual story for the news media, as well.
6. Write a news release about some newsworthy aspect of you or your business (milestone achieved, new partnership, product launch, award received) and be sure it’s search optimized (hyperlinks to your site, key words included). It will take a little work to find the right contacts locally, but visiting the news organization websites will give you most of what you need. If you really want to do it right and feel you have national news, you might want to step up to a paid wire distribution service, such as Business Wire or PR Newswire, although they will run you hundreds of dollars for one release. Send it out on the free wire services, as well.
7. Hold an event for no reason and invite clients, client prospects, people you want to know better and even news media. Every year, my husband and I have a Dia de Los Muertos party at our home. I have been collecting Mexican folk art for about 20 years and this is my excuse to break out the collection and serve Mexican food and margaritas. An invitation to our annual party has become coveted among various circles of influence and it gives us a chance to reach out to people we want to know better. There is no agenda at the party but the people who attend feel very special for having been invited. This is a valuable relationship-building activity.
8. Record video testimonials from your customers and upload to your website, YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, etc. These are powerful visuals and can be done right from your smartphone. Easy-to-use and free video editing software is available to download from your phone’s app store and can do the editing for you.
9. Pull off a publicity stunt. Major, major warning on this! Publicity stunts can backfire like nothing else. Remember the blinking devices throughout Boston, which were mistaken for bombs in January 2007? That was a publicity stunt gone wrong from the Cartoon Network, which was trying to promote its new movie, Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters.
For examples of publicity stunts gone wrong, check out http://www.womansday.com/Articles/Family-Lifestyle/9-Publicity-Stunts-Gone- Wrong.html.
Now for examples of publicity stunts gone right, check out http://www.taylorherring.com/blog/index.php/2009/01/50-top-publicity-stunts and http://www.entrepreneur.com/marketing/marketingideas/article159484.html.
One of my all-time favorites is when IKEA set up furniture vignettes throughout Manhattan so that during rush hour people encountered oven mitts hanging from subway handles and seating areas set up at bus shelters. These illustrated IKEA’s everyday chic in a high-impact way.
10. Team up with a nonprofit. This is a win-win situation since you will both benefit from this partnership. On a national level, AMF Bowling has teamed up with Susan G. Komen for “Bowl for the Cure” (bowling to raise funds for breast cancer research).
When we went to implement this on a local level in Phoenix, we contacted the local Susan G. Komen office which was able to give us some promotional items (T-shirts from the previous year’s Race for the Cure, pens, notepads, key chains, etc.) and we put together tote bags full of items with our media advisory for the news media. We hand delivered the totes to our local press and they loved them so much they started calling our office that same day (highly unusual).
We got a lot of news coverage on “Bowl for the Cure,” giving substantial exposure to both AMF Bowling and Susan G. Komen. Normally, we would have leveraged all of the social media and online opportunities available to us, but AMF Bowling was still forming its social media policy and wasn’t quite ready. Nevertheless, it is a wonderful partnership between a company and a nonprofit and can be replicated on a smaller scale.
Anyone can take these ideas and come up with their own unique twist. Give one a try and you will be surprised at how much buzz you can build!