Blake Snow

writer-for-hire, content guy, bestselling author

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Tagged pr

How to get free publicity: 10 tips from insiders (+ movie recommendations)


As someone who’s written hundreds of articles for fancy publications, I’m often asked the best way to land free publicity.

Outside of knowing when you have truly have something that’s noteworthy and knowing which audiences are most likely to find your something relevant, my colleague Josh Steimle recently wrote about the subject for Entrepreneur; specifically how to get great PR in 15 minutes per day.

Josh was kind enough to interview and quote me in the article. This is what I said: “Indirect PR pitches are the best way to increase your chances of a media placement. Rather than talking about yourself, explain a larger trend that might interest the journalist or publication you’re pitching, complete with stats, anecdotes and data.

“Your contribution should be only part of the story. Doing so not only makes the press’s job easier but demonstrates greater objectivity, further increasing your chances of a placement.”

In my experience as someone being pitched, that approach leads to a lot more placements.

Since we’re on the subject, now go watch Ace in the Hole, All The Presidents Men, State of Play, and Spotlight—all good if not remarkable movies on journalism.

General Motors scored Omega Supreme on free Transformers advertising

Despite its recent troubles, General Motors is the luckiest company in the world over the next few weeks according to Jalopnik. The car-loving blog — while heavily praising the movie’s entertainment value– says the highly-anticipated Transformers movie is basically a 144-minute commercial for GM. From the article:

“What makes this arrangement so amazing is that GM didn’t pay Paramount a single dime to get it done. That’s right — not a single penny changed hands between the big n’ beefy automaker and the big n’ beefy studio. Sure, GM provided some in-kind contributions of concept vehicles and the like, and of course they’ve got their own marketing budget running their own marketing campaign — but unlike other automakers, they didn’t drop a single pence into Paramount’s pocket for the privilege of having themselves featured in a movie [aimed at the coveted 15-35 male demographic, you know, the ones that buy a lot of cars] about cars that change into robots.”


NOTE: Transformers looks incredible! At first I thought the movie and its premise seemed too lame for the big screen, not to mention juvenile and over the top. But after seeing (and hearing) the amazing CG, cinematics, and deep sound, I cannot wait to see this film. “Autobots, transform. And roll out!” (spoiler-free review here)

This is how you press release key influencers

In case you didn’t know, Nintendo has been on a storm over the past year (I’m a big fan). Their stock has doubled over the past 12 months thanks to their nifty little DS handheld and motion-sensing Wii console.

So in commemoration of Letterman’s 60th birthday, Nintendo sent the late-night host a candid and personalized letter along with 2 handhelds and games that it’s pitching to an older generation, all with an insane amount of message consistency. The letter copy is far from the bloated stuff PR peeps normally send. Have a look for yourself.

Assuming Dave’s publicists personally delivers the loot, I’d be surprised if Letterman doesn’t name drop the product on his show. So let’s recap how to earn quality free media:

  1. Build a good product that’s in demand. You can’t make a ball roll up hill, neither can you with a crappy product.
  2. Get creative when pitching individuals, bloggers, newspapers, magazines, and TV personalities. Asking for coverage is lame. I’m amazed PR reps still do it. Get creative when pitching, and it better be good because bell cows have seen it all (see above example).

Despite being a celebrity, people still love free personalized goodies. Everyone has a flattering point. Make sure you product or service can do that, and it will be a lot easier to get free coverage.

Try as they may, PR no longer control the conversation. You do.

This post comes courtesy of a good friend — Nicholas Roussos — as he so concisely describes and interesting event that transpired in public relations yesterday. First a little background. Sony’s newly launched PlayStation 3 is in a world of hurt. It costs a whopping $600 (Blu-ray included) and people aren’t buying it. The value proposition just isn’t there yet (if ever) on a mass scale. Note: PlayStation brings in 60% of Sony’s total profits.

So yesterday, the world’s largest gaming blog, Kotaku, leaked information that Sony would be releasing a new social networking tool heavily inspired by Nintendo’s and Microsoft’s already existing user-generated content efforts. Sony asks them not to run the story, but Kotaku rightfully does anyway.

About an hour later, Sony blackballs Kotaku from all company relations saying only information in the “public domain” will be made available to Kotaku in their coverage of Sony products. Kotaku publishes Sony’s archaic email ban and fittingly describes the biggest conflict of interest between PR and journalism in a respectful reply to Sony’s head of PR, Dave Karraker: “I think [your reaction] only highlights the differences that PR people and journalists have. My interest is not in making sure that Sony has positive news or that the timing of their news is correct, my job only is to inform the readers of news as quickly and accurately as I can.”

Immediately after Kotaku’s follow up post to their rumor, the internet implodes. Every single gaming blog is quick to criticize Sony’s reaction. The story reaches Digg’s homepage, and Sony’s already negative relationship with consumers spirals even further out of control, all in a matter of hours. Sony quickly caves, and reinvites Kotaku to all of their events, etc. Everything like it was before only Sony leaving having learned a valuable lesson. That is the online conversation changes everything, as Nic states “Cluetrain-style.” The above example shows Sony PR trying to do what traditional PR does; control the message and its timing. Kotaku makes that effort to control public and fosters more leverage against the mighty Sony corporation than it ever could alone. The online conversation is so powerful that even a company as big as Sony has to give in.

What a novel idea for companies: Apologize when you make a mistake

I don’t care what calculated advice your PR company gives you, this is how you start correcting a mistake if you run a consumer business, or any business for that matter. It’s called a sincere apology and it’s been helping men stay out of the dog house since the dawn of time. Watch as JetBlue CEO David Neeleman publicly apologizes on YouTube to his customers. He takes full responsibility after leaving numerous passengers stranded on a frozen tarmac for 10.5 hours at JFK. Admirable.