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Harness the Power of Media Publicity to Build Your Image as an Authority, Attract News Clients and Increase Referrals

Publicity is the term I use to describe feature articles in newspapers and magazines—and interviews on radio and television. Publicity can be a powerful tool when you use it correctly.
The idea of hiring someone to handle publicity goes back to Biblical times. In fact, the first press agent in recorded history was Samuel, who handled publicity for Moses. When Moses was leading his people to the Promised Land and they reached the Red Sea, he called for Samuel.
He asked, “Samuel, where are the boats I asked you to rent for our journey?” Samuel looked down at the ground and said “I’m sorry, Moses, I forgot. With all the food I had to order, and the supplies I had to stock, I forgot to rent the boats.”
Moses raised his voice and demanded, “Samuel, now what do you expect me to do? Do you think I can just raise my rod over the Red Sea and God will part the waters?”
Samuel looked up, with a twinkle in his eye, and replied, “Boss, if you can pull that off, I’ll get you two pages in the Old Testament.”
When I discuss publicity, the decision-maker at the print media is called the editor. The decision-maker at the broadcast media is called the producer. When I say “editor,” I’m referring to both.
Media publicity benefits you in many ways. First, it establishes a high level of credibility and shows that you are an authority in your field. Otherwise, the editor would not have featured you in an article or interview. Second, it gives you a way to reach dozens, hundreds or even thousands of prospects, depending on the media outlet where your article runs or your interview airs.
Back in 1983, using education-based marketing, I was successful at getting my wife into Ann Landers’ advice column. At the time, my wife Stephanie published a monthly newsletter for people with diabetes. She offered free information of interest to people with diabetes. Ann Landers ran my wife’s letter, which included her offer of free information and her address.
Stephanie received over 19,000 written inquiries the first week, 23,000 in all. The main Scottsdale post office opened their doors on Saturday just so I could wheel the mail cart out to my car.
As a result of this staggering level of publicity, my wife skyrocketed to the top of her profession. She spoke at national conventions. She was named to the National Board of Directors for her American Association of Diabetes Educators. And two years later, she was the program chairperson for the nationwide convention, which that year was held in Phoenix.
Several years ago, before I limited my work to attorneys, one of my clients owned a water damage restoration company that removed water from flooded buildings. He wanted to increase his credibility with insurance companies, so he asked me to write a news release for him. He sent out the news releases and within a week or so, while I was working at my computer, I heard my client’s voice. I looked up and he was being interviewed by CNN Headline News, following a flood in California. One news release immediately established his credibility as a national expert on flood damage and restoration.
One of my clients filed a multi-million dollar damage suit relating to an automobile accident. I wrote his news release and sent it to the appropriate media. The article about his lawsuit appeared on the front page of his local newspaper.
Here’s a case history about an estate planning attorney I worked with for over five years. We mounted an ongoing publicity campaign and, as you can see from these results, his publicity program proved immensely profitable.His first opportunity for publicity was an interview on an hour-long radio talk show in Phoenix. The interview took place the day after Christmas, so the listening audience was larger than usual. He offered his free fact kit during the interview. Within ten days, he received 426 calls from prospects requesting his educational materials.
Next, I ghost wrote an article that I submitted to a local senior newspaper under his by-line. When the publication hit the streets, he received over 400 inquiries from prospects.
The largest newspaper in Arizona—the Arizona Republic— interviewed this lawyer and ran an article in an area section where he was presenting a seminar. As a result of this one article, 233 people attended his program.
Later, a local television station interviewed him on the midday news. The news department put his telephone number on a graphic, which appeared on the TV screen. Within three hours of the newscast, he received 200 calls from prospects requesting his free materials. After two days, the number topped 500.
In this lawyer’s case, the timing was right, prospective clients were eager, and his free materials were compelling. We were able to make excellent use of the media—and all this publicity was free.
When you communicate with editors, keep in mind that they are often on deadline. They want to receive your message, but almost never have time to talk with you on the telephone.
I suggest you communicate with editors exclusively in writing. This way they can read your query letter or news release whenever it’s convenient for them. If they’re interested, they will either call you or run your news release as is.
You may have heard of a press kit, which is generally a twopocket folder filled with news releases, background material, photographs—anything the public relations firm can think to include.
I encourage you not to spend money on press kits. The only opportunity a press kit affords is the opportunity for the p.r. firm to prepare it—and charge you $5,000 to $10,000, or even more.
Many editors have told me they often throw press kits into the trash, unopened. Editors don’t have the time or desire to wade through lengthy materials. They want query letters and news releases that are newsworthy, to the point and well written. When you learn how to appeal to editors—and how to provide materials they want—you open doors that will serve you well for your entire professional career.

Trey Ryder

Trey Ryder specializes in Education-Based Marketing for lawyers. He offers three free articles by e-mail: 11 Brochure Mistakes Lawyers Make, Marketing Moves Most Lawyers Miss, and 13 Marketing Misconceptions That Cost Lawyers a Fortune. To receive these articles, send your name and e-mail address to trey@treyryder.com and ask for his free packet of marketing articles.

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Filed Under: Featured StoriesPersonal Development

About the Author: Trey Ryder specializes in Education-Based Marketing for lawyers. He offers three free articles by e-mail: 11 Brochure Mistakes Lawyers Make, Marketing Moves Most Lawyers Miss, and 13 Marketing Misconceptions That Cost Lawyers a Fortune. To receive these articles, send your name and e-mail address to trey@treyryder.com and ask for his free packet of marketing articles.

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