Winning publicity: How to achieve an ‘unfair’ advantage

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renotour nandram
Roy Nandram received some positive free publicity for his project in RenoTour2016. How did he achieve these results?

Roy Nandram asked me a question at a recent Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association (GOHBA) gathering. One of his renovation projects is among six on display at Renotour2016 — an opportunity for renovators to showcase their completed projects to clients at multi-site open houses.

Nandram, owner of RND Construction, said the local daily newspaper, the Ottawa Citizen, had provided his home most of the publicity — relegating the other five participants to a brief sidebar — and he wondered if that was fair.

“Of course it is,” I answered. “You’ve earned that status through the quality and reputation of your work.”

We are both voluntary members of the marketing committee coordinating this event on behalf of the association. While members all have their self-interest to consider (we for example publish Ottawa Renovates magazine and will earn some advertising revenue from Renotour participants) the committee seeks to ensure fairness and equality.  Renovators, for example, cannot showcase more than one of their projects; to prevent the event from becoming unbalanced.

But we cannot tell the city’s newspaper to be “fair and balanced” in its determination of which projects to highlight. Nor should we try. The key to true editorial credibility is its independence, and that means the editor — not the advertising or public relations people — decide which story gets played, and how.

Nandram said when he saw the publicity, he arranged for extra catering, because he expects a surge in visitors. This is reasonable. However I pointed out that the publicity will certainly be of value to everyone participating in the event. “Sure, they may go to your place first,” I said. “But the’ll have the passport and opportunity to visit the other five homes, so everyone will gain additional traffic and visitors from the event.”

We’ll see how things go. The event is a day away. For now, I’ll leave you with some take-away thoughts.

Association marketing events can provide highly cost effective and powerful opportunities.

The fee to participate in the RenoTour is just a few hundred dollars. There are other costs; for example, perhaps treating the homeowners to a day away while the crowds visit their houses.  On the other side, hundreds of indivudals are expected to visit each home, and several will be potentially valuable clients.

Voluntary participation/contributions creates meaningful indirect advantages.

Both Roy and I participate on this committee, and others. We aren’t paid for our time, and we indeed put our immediate self-serving business interests aside in working on these projects. But do we gain business from the activities? Absolutely?  Besides having insider knowledge of upcoming activities, we enhance our business and personal brands.

You can earn great publicity by doing well, being visible, and enjoying your success.

We’ll see tomorrow, but I think Nandram hit the home run in the publicity for the upcoming event.  Yes, there are ways to encourage media to cover your events and activities. As an example, I receive many news releases each week. However, the stories that stand out the best and truly earn the highest publicity value reflect good news that arises from good deeds rather than overt self-promotion (including bragging about your own “good deeds”). Here, Nandram showed the right spirit — yes, he earned the positive publicity, rightfully, but he didn’t want to brag about it.

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