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Public and Media Relations Tips

Creating and maintaining awareness is integral to building your business. Paid advertising can be expensive and is only one way to get your message out to customers. Proactive public and media relations activities also will help create your community image, increase interest and generate traffic.

Here are some easily employed public and media relations tips and tools that will help increase your visibility, generate balloon awareness, set the record straight and remind the public how balloons can make every event and celebration much more vibrant, memorable and enjoyable.

Develop a Media List

There are more media outlets in your community than ever before and each is looking for information and news that will be of interest to their audiences — your customers. Make lists of:

  1. All the weekly and monthly newspapers serving your community. Most likely there are more than you realize and there’s a good chance some of your best targets are those distributed free. Check your local phone book. Call and get the names of the lifestyle and feature editors and reporters; direct your information to these individuals.
  2. All the local television stations and cable systems serving your community. Call and get the names of the producers of the local lifestyle and special interest shows (usually aired during weekdays at noon and on Sundays). Also get the names of the assignment editors and the lifestyle reporters. Direct all your information to these specific individuals.
  3. All radio stations that have news directors. If you advertise on radio stations featuring a “morning drive” news/talk format, they may have an interest in carrying newsworthy and informational messages free-of-charge in the form of an interview or “soft” news story.
  4. All the regional and national trade publications. Send photos and descriptions of interesting designs and sculptures to flower, party and balloon industry newsletters and magazines. Call first to determine the editor’s names as well as interest, deadlines and other requirements.
  5. All the local civic organizations. Get involved in their weekly programs and annual events. If they have newsletters, visit with the editors and arrange to provide them with some ready-to-print information.

Getting Information to the Media

Although fax and Internet e-mail technology heavily influence today’s information flow, most editors, assignment directors and reporters still initially prefer to receive information via regular mail. Draft a one-page letter that captures the news value of your information and get to them while the information’s “hot.”

(For example: TBC sent a simple “alert” to newspaper feature editors around the country about story ideas associated with Halloween balloon decorations. More than 60 newspapers expressed interest in the idea and followed-up with local retailers.)

  1. Editors, assignment directors and reporters don’t have much use for a story that readers and viewers can’t immediately relate to. You’ve got to find a compelling local angle or “hook” to hang your news on. Tie-in with holidays, local events and especially local people. More importantly, “humanize” your story. Emphasize the unusual ways people express themselves with balloons. Provide value-added “insider” information consumers will appreciate and use.
  2. Don’t shy away from controversial issues — use the issue position papers provided in this kit to help the local media provide balanced and accurate information to your customers.
  3. Call the editor, assignment director or reporter within a few days after sending your letter. This call should be made by 10 a.m. There’s a good chance you’ll reach voice-mail. Regardless, be prepared to “pitch” your story’s compelling uniqueness or news value in three minutes or less. If there’s interest, immediately follow up by faxing your original letter and then make yourself readily available to provide more detailed supporting information, demonstrations or pictures. (The key is to make the reporter’s job flow as easy as possible.)
  4. If there’s no apparent interest, don’t fold your tent, just yet. Ask what kind of lifestyle information they’re looking for and how your story “pitch” could be improved. Follow-up with a note and your business card. Then contact them — perhaps seasonally —with sharp new story ideas that will interest their readers/viewers — your potential customers.

Special Events Can Generate Media Attention

Do you design in-store special events or promotions that only reach walk-in traffic? Expand your communications reach by adding an unusual element or a creative twist that may also capture the media’s attention.

  1. Involve a local elected official or celebrity
  2. Consider high-profile charitable tie-ins
  3. Create marketing alliances with other organizations or companies that can help you create newsworthy events — but don’t rely on them to get your news out
  4. Do something off-beat and humorous that showcases your balloons and creative services
  5. Conduct creative seminars and community workshops — publicize them in your newspapers’ weekly calendar sections
  6. Notify the media with an advance news release

Responding to Media Inquiries

By definition the news media is prone to inquiry and fact gathering. Don’t be intimidated by a reporter’s questions. Always be forthright, but remember — you’re under no obligation to disclose how much business you do, or how many balloons you sell.

If you’re approached with questions pertaining to health concerns, human and animal safety or environmental issues, you can:

  1. Provide the reporter with the position information papers provided in this Retailer’s Public Communications Kit
  2. Use TBC’s Hotline, 800-233-8887, to obtain access to no-cost, media relations experts who will provide immediate assistance.

Sample News Release

Sample Letter-to-the-Editor

Sample Newspaper Opinion Page Piece


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