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This article was prepared for the October 31, 2001 edition
of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Public Relations: Getting Ink and Air
It’s a common sin. You spend a fortune on the design
and of an embossed folder, fill it with glossy four-color photos of
your staff, projects, and facilities, and send it to every media
that reaches your target customers. The hope is that it will attract
enough attention to get your organization some air time or ink.
The reality? Well, listen to Susan Young
and owner of East Brunswick-based Susan Young Media Relations
she spent more than 10 years in radio. "People sent kits, glossy
folders, charts, but I was in radio. They were beautiful, but they
were going in the garbage."
Landing a story in a media outlet gives a company credibility that
ad money only rarely can buy. And the exposure is free. There are
a number of ways to get your company in the news, and it isn’t even
difficult to do so. There are tricks, however, and Young reveals them
when she speaks on "How to Get Free Press: Proven Media Relation
Techniques to Get Your Story Covered" at two upcoming meetings
of the Central Jersey Women’s Network. The first is on Wednesday,
November 7, at 6 p.m. at the Oak House Restaurant in Red Bank, and
the second is on Wednesday, November 14, at 6 p.m. at the Radisson
on Route 1 South at Ridge Road. Cost: $35. Call 908-281-9234.
"Everyone loves a great story," Young says. She is convinced
that every company has many to tell. A graduate of Quinnipiac, she
has been a stringer for ABC news and the Associated Press, a member
of Christie Whitman’s office of radio and television, and a radio
anchor and news director. On the receiving end of the news, she has
observed successful — and not so successful — techniques for
attracting positive media attention.
Young’s clients include non-profits, manufacturers, banks, and
Her work for one client, an eye doctor, illustrates some of many
for boosting name recognition and increasing business through
"He was on TV this morning with Halloween safety tips," she
reports. When the doctor arrived at his office for his morning
he found some excited patients. "`I saw you on TV,’" two
wait to tell him. Young has also had him giving 4th of July tips,
and eye care advice to seniors.
Giving advice, generally speaking, is a much surer route to press
coverage than is sending a generic folder of company info. Other good
tactics include letters to the editor tying current events into the
company’s area of expertise, press conferences, press releases, and
public service announcements. Knowing when to pitch each, and how,
is the key. Here is Young’s advice:
have time for a three-page handout," says Young. As a newsperson,
her attitude was: "What’s it about? Tell me upfront, in one or
two lines." She didn’t have the time to dig more deeply, or to
re-read obtuse text. Decision makers in news rooms may receive several
hundred letters, faxes, E-mails, and phone calls in a day. Vague,
over-long, or jargon-filled missives often land in the trash.
Young points out. For every story, the newsperson automatically
"how does this affect people?" Framing a media pitch with
its effect on people right at the top makes it easier for the
to see where it might fit in. For instance, the announcement of a
business expansion may draw more attention if it starts with the
of new jobs that will be created. And a breakthrough in dental
will get more press if it leads with statistics on how it will cut
patients’ pain, or time in the chair, or number of cavities.
one size does not fit all. It’s a lot easier to send the same pamphlet
to everyone, but most often a waste of time and money. For radio,
Young was most receptive to a six-sentence story accompanied by a
sound bite. A magazine with a small staff often is swayed by a promise
of photographs. A television station wants a story with fresh visual
and newspapers cover events and write about them afterwards. Others
largely, or only, write previews of events before they occur. Trying
to pitch the story the other way around, a common occurrence, is
only to annoy an editor.
One television program may have a regular feature highlighting local
high school athletes, while a trade magazine may run photos of
receiving awards in every issue. Study each media outlet, learn the
names of its editors and reporters, and notice regular features. The
more you know about each, the more likely it is that your pitch will
be accepted. Or that you will save time by avoiding sending pitches
to outlets unlikely to have any interest in your story.
is a very fine line between being persistent, and being a pest,"
she says. She suggests starting each call to a media outlet by asking
"Is this a good time for you?"
aspect of business, placing stories sometimes comes down, at least
in part, to who you know. Instead of calling a reporter repeatedly
to pitch the same story, try to make his job easier by finding out
the kinds of stories he needs, and supplying them.
proposed stories will not find a home. "There are no
is the way Young puts it. Your company may have come up with a pill
that cures baldness in a single dose with no side effects, but if
it hits the market on a day when Prince Charles elopes with a local
convenience store clerk and Bill Clinton enters a monastery, the story
may not get much play.
You don’t buy the same tool twice. It’s dumb. If some
rookie purchasing agent stepped out and bought three crates of hammers
without taking note of the five crates already cluttering up your
warehouse, you would probably fire the fool, right? So why shell out
thousands on a marketing research plan when you’ve already paid for
most of the data once — through your taxes?
Ah, but how to mine the information? The answer to this and many more
marketing questions will be revealed on Thursday, November 8, at 6:30
p.m. at a dinner seminar, "Market Research for Your Successful
Business Plan," sponsored by the New Jersey Entrepreneurs Forum
and held at McAteers Restaurant, 1714 Easton Avenue in Somerset.
Au, business librarian at Rutgers’ John Cotton Dana Library in
Newark, speaks on the wealth of information and expertise available
in his library and other institutions. Cost: $40. Call 908-789-3424.
The odds of your having an in-house marketing professional with the
capabilities of Rutgers’ Au are slim indeed. And if you do, you are
probably not paying him enough. Au grew up in Tara, Malaysia, and
moved to Canada, where he attended the University of Guelph in
studying business management and economics. From those northern
he headed south to Rutgers where he earned a master’s in library
in l986. Since then he has become a tenured business librarian, one
of five on Rutgers campuses who can answer the most amazing questions
right over the phone, while you wait.
"But please don’t phone," says Au, "because the kind of
marketing question you should be asking is not one that can be
over a machine." Instead, Au prefers people with marketing
to come in for an interview, which typically takes 20 to 30 minutes.
For example, if you want to know how to sell figs from Northern Africa
in New Jersey, the answers are out there, but the questions are
Print and online data hold most of the answers about your competition,
their prices, and what percentages of figs currently are selling into
what outlets, Au explains. Government databases can provide you with
food shipping and import guidelines.
Here is how to make the most of these resources.
plan for a small business product will cost the entrepreneur
$2,000 to $5,000," says Au. "We at Rutgers have already spent
tens of thousands on business databases so you won’t have to."
He admits that free searches may not be as exhaustive as the $5,000
effort, but for most needs, the target can be as well delineated.
So, who wants figs in New Jersey? You might search various ethnic
groups, find out which ones use them in their cooking. Then, using
census demographics, you could find out where high concentrations
of these fig lovers live.
businesses in Au’s business listing database. Each is cross-coded
according to zip code, product type, size, age, and a panoply of other
categories. If high concentrations of, say, fig-eating Italians,
and Lebanese live in certain segments of certain counties, it is a
simple matter to cross reference and seek out potential specialty
stores. (Simple for Au, at least, and his five cohorts, a group
15 years research experience.)
I see," says Au, "is business people getting so focused on
one method of research they refuse to change the approach regardless
of the evidence." Maybe you shouldn’t concentrate on selling figs
to individuals, but should target one of the three chains and 23
stores that already handle them. Or maybe you can simply end all your
problems by dumping your product at a wholesaler’s door. A good
plan keeps engendering new questions as it evolves; and it may well
change the avenue of your product flow.
Statistical marketing is an excellent tool, but too many people do
not take advantage of their trade and professional associations."
You can learn a lot more in the company of the right business veteran
than your computer could ever tell you.
— Bart Jackson
Nearly one-third of fundraisers answering a survey sent
to them by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) say
they have experienced financial setbacks that they attribute to the
aftermath of September 11. The AFP is finding that many organizations
are experiencing reductions in charitable giving as the public shifts
its focus to disaster relief related to the attacks.
Add to this a spate of high-profile corporate lay-offs, announcements
that year-end bonuses will not come near last year’s level, and the
still-unfolding anthrax attacks, and there is reason to worry that
many charities will come up short in their important year-end
These obstacles to giving will be on everyone’s minds as the New
chapter of AFP holds its annual conference on philanthropy on
November 8, at 8:15 a.m. at the Hanover Marriott in Whippany. Cost:
$250. Call 609-585-6871.
The first session, at 8:15 a.m., "The Effects of the New Jersey
Business Climate on Philanthropy," is headed by Joan
president of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, and by J. Michael
Schweder, president of AT&T New Jersey.
At 11 a.m. Ron Brown
University, will join a panel on "Getting Your Share of Major
and Planned Gifts." At 2 p.m. Steven Rusk
at Russ Reid Company, speaks on "Tales from the Direct Response
Fundraising Laboratory." At 3:30 p.m. Charity Poth
director of SuitAbility, will be part of a panel on "Filling in
When the Government Moves Out."
In addition to these sessions, attendees have a choice of a number
of concurrent seminars throughout the day.
With dotcoms and technology stocks faltering, few would
be surprised that to learn that — barely more than a year after
it opened on Princeton Pike — the Global Electronic Technology
ContactX Association has moved to be closer to the home of its
Steven E.C. Sroczynski
halfway between Valley Forge and Reading, Pennsylvania, and within
four months he will move it again, this time to Orlando, Florida.
Sroczynski promised that GetContactX would be the "largest global
community for professionals and organizations in the technology and
other industries, a dynamic middle ground between traditional
venues — filling the market void between community event and
industry events." At that time there were plans to go nationwide
with events and seminars plus a website with customized news delivery
and the opportunity to post member news releases.
The website shows that the busy schedule of New Jersey-based events
has taken a temporary hiatus (one is scheduled for November), but
the free newsletter delivery continues, and Sroczynski promises the
events will soon be in full swing. This time, though, going along
with his goal to go nationwide, the same event will be produced at
different locations, and area licensees of GetContactx will do the
For instance, a seminar from Register.com, one of the larger domain
registration companies, will be staged in six locations from
to Virginia; in New Jersey it will be at the Newark Airport Marriott
on Tuesday, November 13, at 8 a.m., and will cover complex domain
portfolios and custom registration portals (CRPs). It is free. Call
This ambitious for-profit organization parallels many of the
of the larger New Jersey Technology Council, a five-year-old nonprofit
group based in Mt. Laurel. But GetContactX was founded to help
make sales contacts, rather than to directly serve technology
and the cultures of the two groups are very different. "There
are certainly members on the business development side, but we are
also seeing growth from non tech companies — Mercedes Benz, BMW,
Aventis, and Cendant — that use technology in their own
Sroczynski claims several licensees to collect memberships and stage
events in New Jersey and is announcing one in Hawaii. Of the move
to Orlando, he says, "that particular city is the most visited
by international visitors. Since we are global, that gives us a chance
to see prospective clients without their making an extra trip."
Sanguine about the move and the reduction in staff from the peak of
seven people to three, he points out that then he was setting up the
infrastructure for the organization. The income comes from
One small retailer in Princeton paid $350 last October, but listed
fees were $499 for a nine-person company up to $1,899 for 200 people.
Go to the website to look for members by geography and it starts out
by asking you to pick a continent. Searching by geography or industry
is available on the website, and it does has an alphabetical list
of members that show distribution, upon quick perusal, of from New
York to Pennsylvania and Virginia. Princeton area members include
Carrier Hotels, DBS, Document Depot, Paula Gould Consulting, the
Chamber, and Gil Gordon, the telecommuting consultant.
Members receive discounted admission for seminars and networking
plus access to the free newsletter for posting press releases and
white papers. One area member said he gained a couple of clients from
the networking. Another was disappointed at how few of the events
were in Central Jersey. "Though the premise wasn’t bad," she
says, "he was never clear on what he was delivering."
Sroczynski claims nearly 9,000 newsletter subscribers and a
rate — to read a press release or learn about an event — of
one from every five recipients, "a pretty impressive number,"
he says, and that the "staying time" of 12 minutes has
About 160 people per month sign up for the newsletter through the
website or because it was forwarded to them. He attributes his low
"unsubscribe" rate of three tenths of one percent to a
program last summer, when he and his staff (including two temps) made
1,500 calls to track down bad E-mail addresses.
So Sroczynski remains his always-optimistic self. Prospective clients
want to take advantage of both venues, he says, the bricks and mortar
meetings and the electronic newsletter. "We are offering what
they want at a price point they want, and the market is working."
"We have lived through the tech industry downtown, the general
economic downturn, and the events of September 11," he says.
tech industry has not yet begun to show the depth of the hurt."
That means sales departments are going to be hungry: "I am getting
more unsolicited requests to do business."
— Barbara Fox
Steve Sroczynski, president. 610-718-9810; fax, 610-718-9811. Home
<D>Chili’s Grill & Bar on Route 1 South participated
in the "Dine For America" program on October 11, a nationwide
effort to raise money for the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund.
The owner of Chili’s, Quality Dining Inc., is donating $10,000 and
will be collecting donations at its 74 restaurants.
a $1 million fund to pay help pay for health benefits for New Jersey
families and members of its New York health plans who lost a husband,
wife, or parent in the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Assistance through the fund is available to New Jersey spouses and
children, regardless of their insurer, and to members of Horizon’s
New York insurance plans who lost a family member. The fund will pay
for extended health coverage, including replacement insurance or the
increased cost for continuation of existing coverage. Call
Plainsboro, joined students from the Cambridge School in Pennington
in gleaning apples at Terhune Orchards
will distribute the apples.
Farmers Against Hunger is a hunger relief program started by local
farmers through the New Jersey Agricultural Society to make use of
excess fruits and vegetables that can not be sold at market. The
is distributed to churches, food banks, and senior citizen centers.
This year, Farmers Against Hunger will collect 1 million pounds of
Gleaning, a practice that goes back to Biblical times, is now usually
done after mechanized reapers go through fields gathering up crops.
Gleaners gather up the produce that is too small, or too oddly shaped,
for the machines to pick.
Street Friends Food Cooperative during two days in October.
Check-Out Hunger is a joint campaign of food retailers, Fleet Bank,
community volunteers, and the state’s food banks to raise funds for
a team of attorneys, staff, family members, and friends to participate
in the Eighth Annual Komen New Jersey Race for the Cure. Included
on the team are breast cancer survivors Christine Manuelli, a staff
member, and June Bilenky, a friend of Reed Smith staff members, who
celebrated her 10-year, cancer-free anniversary.
The Ford Foundation is sponsoring a Take Your Kids to
Vote/New Jersey project aimed at upping participation in electoral
contests. The foundation finds voter turnout in the United States
among the lowest of any democracy, with younger adults especially
unlikely to cast a ballot.
Walking into a polling place holding on to a parent’s hand makes a
lasting impression on children, according to the foundation, making
it more likely that they will take up the voting habit as adults.
The foundation urges all parents to have their children join them
on November 6 as they cast their votes.
Corrections or additions?
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— the web site for U.S. 1 Newspaper in Princeton, New Jersey.