Here’s How to Generate Publicity that Grows Exponentially

Bundle of newspapers

Last week I was once again reminded of the old PR maxim that publicity begets publicity. For one of my clients, a well-timed news release on a topic that coincided with a high-profile national issue transformed the initial release into a news generator that came in exponential waves. And the hits and interview requests just keep coming.

One of the things that can really jump-start publicity efforts is to have a national media outlet do an original story based on the release.  That happened in this case, which expanded the publicity much further than would otherwise have been the case. And now, as word continues to spread among the news media and via social media, new opportunities to keep the story going continue to surface.

Sounds easy enough, but making this “magic” happen is much more difficult than it may appear to someone who’s never tried pitching a story idea or circulating a news release to reporters who are swamped with competing requests and breaking news items.

So, how do you know if your story idea will generate publicity or end up in a black hole that never sees the light of day?

One of the most important ways you can improve the odds of generating publicity is to understand the criteria news media use to determine the value of news.

Here are the ones I believe are most important:

  • Consequence to readers/viewers
  • Prominence of the individual/organization
  • Proximity to the area served (if a local or regional news outlet)
  • Conflict
  • Controversy
  • Timeliness
  • Human interest
  • Consumer trends
  • Novelty or unusualness of the story

In my experience, you need to have at least one of these criteria to be modestly successful with your publicity efforts, and in most cases at least two if you are to have any chance of the publicity going “viral.”

The more of these elements you can add to the mix, the higher your probability of getting good hits. Influencers can also greatly help with your publicity efforts as they pass along the story – and their thoughts about it – to others via social media and/or personal contacts with reporters.

Generating publicity isn’t rocket science, but you need the right mix of rocket fuel for a successful launch.

photo credit: Steve Rhodes via photopin cc

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