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When it comes to promoting your business, there’s one type of marketing that money can’t buy: media coverage. When your company makes the news, you’re not only spreading the word about your products and services, but you’re gaining the implicit legitimacy that such news coverage brings.
There’s an old adage that goes something along the lines of, “I don’t care what the media says about me, as long as they spell my name right.” While this has an element of truth to it, the reality is that not all coverage is good coverage. To the greatest extent possible, you should control media reports about your company.
Most of the time, this means sending out press releases and being prepared to answer media inquiries. Other times, events dictate that you need to be a master in spin control. If you’re good at spin, you can transform a potentially embarrassing situation into a wealth of free publicity.
The manager of a Washington, D.C., gym recently did just that. Presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama has a membership in a gym network, and dropped into a new facility for a morning workout. Although his cadre of Secret Service agents was in tow, the person staffing the desk apparently asked him for his gym card. When he didn’t have it, she asked for his last name (presumably so she could verify his membership). After Obama gave his last name, she asked for his first name; only then did she (apparently) realize who he was and let him into the gym.
The gym manager masterfully parlayed a potentially embarrassing incident into favorable national media coverage, and his gym got the kind of publicity that most likely turned other gyms green with envy. Was a media contingent present, and was the incident planned? Who knows. Did the Obama campaign share the story with the media to reinforce the idea that their candidate is a “regular guy”? Maybe.
The bottom line? If you unexpectedly find yourself in the news, be on your toes; if you spin the story properly, you’ll get the kind of free advertising you can only dream of.
Check back tomorrow, when we’ll discuss using press releases to your advantage.