PR 101

By Hannah Wallace May 31, 2006

In this special media and marketing issue, we'll show you how to capture consumers' attention despite today's information overload. And Sarasota's Kelly Kirschner, who is fluent in Spanish and Latin American culture from his years in the Peace Corps and promoting the scholarship foundation he founded in Guatemala, provides a revealing look at the emerging Hispanic market here, a market that most companies have barely begun to recognize. Somehow Kirschner, who does his research and reporting after working as the product manager for Bio-Research, also managed to write another feature, about the marketing smarts behind the Sarasota Film Festival.

We've seen some great marketing ideas this year. Among them: The Manatee Chamber of Commerce recently created a brilliantly simple press-release form on its Web site, which allows its 2,400 members to write releases and send them to selected media with just a click of the mouse.

And I'll admit it: Food is a surefire way to catch the attention of editors and writers. It worked for Dictor & Martin, which sent a candy bar on Valentine's Day with a wrapper emblazoned with the company's name. And all editing stopped in our office when Smith Advertising delivered a beautiful vase filled with shell-shaped chocolates to promote the new Longboat Key condominium Bleu Claire. Still, media treats are nothing but empty calories if the product is bland. Ultimately, the way onto our pages really isn't through our stomachs.

If you're looking for media attention, here are some tips to make your press releases stand out.

  • Think ahead. Print media works weeks and months in advance (we decide our editorial content for this magazine four months before the issue is published). Know the lead times for the media you're targeting.
  • Be professional. Misspellings, incomplete information or poor graphics and photography might raise doubts about the quality of your product or service.
  • Be concise and provide the basics. We still need the who, what, when, where and why in the shortest amount of space possible. There's no need to write a faux editorial feature to capture our attention. And please don't send a press release about every new development in your company, even thought that new piece of equipment you purchased is exciting to your workers. Make sure you send us news that really will interest the business leaders and owners we serve. E-mailing is fine; in fact, I prefer it.
  • Be available. Please tell us how to reach you, and if we do call, make sure you're accessible. The media is always on deadline and will move on to the next source if you're not available.

Most of all, keep those calls, letters, e-mails (and yes, occasional sweet treats) coming. We need the information and ideas you provide to stay abreast of business in Sarasota and Manatee.

WAY TO GO Congratulations to New College of Florida for being named the nation's No. 1 "best value" in public higher education, a point that should not go unnoticed as we market the region to smart executives as a place that values culture and a vibrant intellectual life.

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