Most businesses only dream about getting national media coverage for their products and services
Fekete + Co., a marketing communications firm based in Columbus, hit the jackpot this past summer, however, when a product developed by President Sandy Fekete was featured in the well-read and very hip Fast Company magazine.
The two-page write-up netted Fekete about 450 inquiries from around the world. Fortunately, her nine-employee company was prepared.
In fact, for Fekete, the article became the push she needed to move forward with her "Companies Are People, Too" product, which profiles a company's personality.
"It was a vision. What this did was make it a reality," Fekete says. "It confirmed that there is demand, and it made me more comfortable with going forward."
"Companies Are People, Too" is a 74-question, software-based questionnaire that takes the principles of personality type that were developed by Carl Jung, Isabel Myers and Katherine Myers-Briggs for individuals, and applies them to organizations.
Although Fekete admits she first queried the magazine about her idea back in 1997, she soon realized she needed more data and examples of how her product works before she could get Fast Company's attention. Ironically, the eventual decision to run an article on the product came a couple years later as the result of a conversation between one of Fekete's customers, Dixon Schwabl Advertising, and Fast Company.
"It came through a much more credible channel -- somebody who had experienced the product," Fekete says.
After being contacted for the article, Fekete had about 60 days before it hit newsstands -- and the businesses and homes of more than 500,000 readers nationwide. Not sure what to expect, Fekete positioned herself optimistically, redesigning her company's Web site to include a contact form.
This enabled her to respond via blanket e-mails, a concept she is grateful for today. That's because, even two months after the Fast Company article appeared, Fekete still had scores of e-mails in her in-box -- and that was only part of the response.
The first inquiries arrived about two weeks before the July issue of the magazine hit newsstands, after the online version became available. Inquiries came via e-mail from far-off places like Sweden, Venezuela, New Zealand and Australia.
From that point forward, the inquiries continued to stream in, mostly via the contact form on the Web site. The result: 14 organizations have signed on to use the product, numerous others are in the dialogue stage, two people have contacted Fekete about writing a book, and several consultants want to use the product as a tool when working with organizations.
While grabbing national media attention isn't easy, here's some advice from Fekete to get started:
- Make sure when you're ready to seek publicity that you start small, if you can. Test the waters locally first.
- Don't underestimate the power of national publicity. You can look very foolish if you get a tremendous response and you're not ready.
- Be choosy about the medium you pursue, making sure it targets your market. Fast Company is cutting edge and the people who read it can relate to what Fekete is doing.
- Maximize the power the Internet offers for responding to inquiries and capturing data that comes in with an inquiry. Include a contact form on your Web site to help mine such data.
While national media attention is great for a company, it may not be something you should try to do on your own, cautions Roger Morris, president of the Columbus/Franklin County News Bureau.
"Local firms starting out have no concept of media relations," he says. "They need outside help from a public relations firm."
But if you choose to attempt it alone, here's his advice:
- Use the Internet and resources such as PR Newswire to see how other news releases are being shaped and formed.
- It's not likely the Wall Street Journal will show immediate interest, so instead, send a release or pitch to a trade publication in your field.
- Establish a good Web site to promote your product or idea to the media.
- Be able to explain your business in layman's terms. Be concise when explaining what you do and what it means to the average consumer or interested party.
Lori Murray (Lori3204@aol.com) is a free-lance writer for SBN.