Friday, October 24, 2014

So you have a great product/sound/service. Now what?

You've written a memoir, released your first EP or started shooting your web series! Awesome!

But just when you thought much of the hard work was behind you, you now have to market and promote your work so people will know about it and more importantly, how to find it. For many creatives, that's much more difficult than the work that went into putting the venture together in the first place.

Ever wonder how to get the information about your new exhibit, book, musical release or upcoming show out there?

Because they often don't have time to do it themselves or simply don't know how to begin, many people work with a company like ours to help them garner some publicity and get the buzz about this hot new thing going. Whether that person is a publicist, a marketing specialist or a public relations representative, they basically do the work of finding ways to get you and what you do noticed.

For so long, traditional media - print newspapers and magazines as well as broadcast and radio - were the way to go. That meant your work had to come to the attention of an editor or producer before it made it to print or to the airwaves. The pitch to that front line was most often done via introductory letter and a press release with a sample of the product.

Still, so many books, records and greeting card lines ended up on that editor's shelf collecting dust. What is it that makes some products catch the eye of an entertainment editor while others just don't?

Everything that makes its way into a daily newspaper, a weekly or monthly magazine or a radio/TV broadcast gets there because someone thought it had news value. Basically, there are seven that decision-making gatekeepers look for to determine if the story has merit to their readers/viewers. They are impact, timeliness, prominence, proximity, conflict, currency and oddity/unusual nature. Some stories have more than one news value, but all content that makes it in has at least one of them.

Let's examine them a little closer:

  • Impact deals directly with the number of people affected. The greater the impact, the more newsworthy the information is considered. For example, a broken pipe that results in two homes flooding/losing water versus a water main rupture that knocks out water for an entire neighborhood: which do you think will garner more news play?
  • Timeliness - Because immediacy is such an important aspect of news gathering, when an event happens is almost as important as just about anything else. News that is weeks old probably won't be covered - unless the fact that the coverage is delayed is important (a government coverup, for example). The exception would be an event that happens over a long period of time, like a month-long art exhibit.
  • Prominence - the simple fact is that well-known people and events make news while lesser-known people and events do not. Think about how Oscar-winning actors get big press when they do trivial things or even how the Cannes or Sundance Film Festivals compare to your regional yearly film festival. This is also how folks like Paris Hilton became famous for being famous.
  • Proximity - Most traditional media is primarily regional in scope. Their reader-/viewership is most interested in things that happen relatively close by. This is usually why a mass bombing in a remote part of the world is sad but a murder-suicide in the next town over freaks everyone out.
  • Conflict - Competing forces make for great news stories. Court dramas are actually some of the most widely read/watched type of stories. Sports take up an entire section in most newspapers and close to 1/3 of a typical nighty news broadcast. If the story has inherent conflict, it will more than likely be deemed news-worthy.
  • Currency - issues and events that are discussed frequently make people want to hear/see/read more about them. One of the best examples out there today is police brutality/shooting stories.
  • Oddity/Unusual Nature - The rarer the event is, the more newsworthy is becomes. In other words, when dog bites man, it's not news, but when man bites dog, it is. Anything with an odd twist will probably find its way into the news hole.
If your press release can convey at least one of these, it stands a good chance of capturing the attention of someone who may want to find out more. Getting their attention is 90 percent of the battle, so plan your marketing, publicity and public relations events with this in mind.