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Why Publicity Sometimes Fails

By Barbara Florio Graham

You've done everything you can think of to publicize your new product launch, event, or small business. But nothing seems to work. Barbara Florio Graham explains why, in this article adapted from Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity .

1. Lack of Definition

  • What business are you in? What is your unique selling position? Have you clearly stated in all your promotional materials exactly what your business, event, product or service will do for those who respond to your publicity? How will they benefit?
  • Where do you fit in relation to others who are similar? Make sure you set yourself apart from the competition, not by putting them down, but by showing the special characteristics that make your product/service/event different.
  • Do you need to reposition yourself? If there's a lot of competition in your field, you may have to promote your company as a better alternative for some special reason.
  • Do you need to clarify how you define yourself? Perhaps your promotional materials need to be punched up so they stand out from others. You may need to take a second look at your logo, your slogan, and your core message.

2. Lack of Planning

  • Make arrangements well in advance. Do not change!
  • Look for opportunities before they occur.
  • Watch deadlines. If you're not absolutely sure, call and ask!
  • Act professionally and prepare professional materials.

3. Unrealistic Goals

  • Don't expect the media to treat features as news.
  • The media can never guarantee coverage, as their priorities change hour by hour.
  • You may increase public and media awareness without receiving any direct media response to your efforts. This is always a hard lesson to accept, but sometimes what you do today may pay off much later when you approach the media again and someone says, "I remember you..."
  • If this is your first venture, you may have to be satisfied with a limited response. Don't let that discourage you.
    Analyze your plan to be sure you did everything possible, and then move on.

4. Acts of God
If something important occurs, it will capture media attention and your effort may be overlooked. One event I promoted hit the front pages of both daily newspapers as well as CBC and CTV local and national newscasts. But that had more to do with luck than anything else. It was a slow news day, in the middle of the summer, and our event took place on Parliament Hill where, just minutes before, major media had just finished covering a press conference. But if it had rained, or a plane had crashed, or fire had broken out in the city…

5. Lack of Response (almost always because of 1, 2, or 3)

Barbara Florio Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings. Her Web site is

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