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Managing the Media:
A Lesson in Making Publicity Come First

By Ed Shiller

The following is an edited excerpt from Ed Shiller's book "The Canadian Guide to Managing the Media" in which he explains how a media relations strategy was utilized to promote a new product in lieu of an expensive advertising campaign.

Howard Fisher, a Toronto chiropractor, wanted to promote his latest invention: the Back Strip, a firm, but flexible foam cushion designed to reduce the risk of back injury by athletes playing demanding contact sports such as hockey and football.

He couldn't afford to buy advertising in volumes that would effectively promote his invention, so he chose, instead, to generate news coverage about it.

Strategy Ideally, the thing to do when promoting a product is to get third-party endorsement. Your message will be much more credible when a recognized authority whose objectivity is beyond question touts the virtues of your invention. Howard persuaded a couple of National Hockey League players to try out the Back Strip and got permission to use their brief testimonials in a news release. The standing of the Back Strip now assured, we set about our primary goal of getting media coverage for Howard's invention.

Our target audiences were easy to identify: any primary- or secondary-school boy or girl who played contact sports; their parents; hockey and football coaches at primary and secondary schools and universities and in the myriad amateur leagues across the country; professional athletes and coaches; and physiotherapists, chiropractors and other health care professionals who would treat sports-related back injuries.

Our target media included the daily press, community newspapers, trade magazines and radio and television stations.

Procedure We produced a comprehensive media kit that contained a news release that focused on how the Back Strip would help prevent sports injuries and included quotes from an established NHL player and trainer. Also in the kit were photographs showing the player being checked while wearing the Back Strip during an NHL game; a fact sheet on the Back Strip; biographical sketches of Howard Fisher and Michael Finewax, his business partner and marketer; and testimonials.

If the media chose to run the news release and nothing more, that was fine with us. But one of our key objectives was to arrange interviews for Howard and thus get much more extensive and varied media coverage.

To achieve this, we topped the media kit off with a personalized letter addressed individually to sports editors, medical writers and assignment or news editors at our targeted media. The kits were mailed or hand delivered and, a few days later, Michael Finewax followed up by phone to arrange interviews. The product was legitimate, the endorsements gave it credibility and the news release pinpointed a persuasive news angle.

The result was that Howard gave more than 50 interviews.

Read the actual news release, fact sheet, biographical information and testimonials used in this case in "The Canadian Guide to Managing the Media". Copies are available from Ed Shiller. Contact him by telephone at 416-496-2243 or E-mail

See also:
How Media Relations Helps the Marketing Plan
7 Ways to Get More Mileage from a Case Study
Public Relations Strategy a Valuable Fundraising Tool
Writing a Successful Case Study
Getting Ink for Your New Product
3 Keys to Keeping Your Marketing and PR Writing on Strategy
How the Media Can Be Positive For Your Business