Ten top tips for effective publicity

Do you meet people who just don’t remember what your organisation does? Have you worked hard to communicate a campaign message, only to find that people don’t understand it?

I have spent the last three years helping charities and social enterprises reach out to people with their campaigns and their services, and I feel I’m starting to get the hang of it. Or at least, I find myself saying the same things to different people a lot of the time, which normally means it’s time to write a blog about it.

So here goes. No matter whether you work in a business, a charity, a social enterprise or a co-operative, or whether you’re a sole trader or an individual campaigner, there are some principles of effective publicity that are true – most of the time. That is, there are some techniques which help make your publicity more memorable and engaging; things that make people remember what you do and what you can do for them. And if your work requires you to reach out to new people or new customers (and whose doesn’t?), being memorable is important, because it makes everything you do more effective.

Marketing needn’t be the preserve of guys with floppy hair, trendy glasses and Macbooks. You can do it too. Here’s how.

1: Decide who you’re talking to

Think of your ideal customer. For now, describe them in as much detail as possible. The broadcast media call this ‘audience profiling’. Then, make your marketing talk to them. Don’t worry about everyone else, for now; just concentrate on talking to your ideal customer. Don’t address the different segments of your audience all at once. Decide who you’re going to talk to and then talk to them. They’ll notice you’re talking to them and they’ll be much more likely to respond. Read more.

2: Sell the benefits

This means spelling out how your proposition meets your buyers’ current needs. Tell them what’s in it for them. People buy benefits. Well, most people do, if it involves them spending their money.

3: Show you care, at the beginning

First, demonstrate that you care about your audience or their concerns. Reduce the ‘so what’ factor. Allow them to accept you as ‘one of us’. It’s important because people only care how much you know if they know how much you care. Show you care. Read more.

4: Make your audience part of your campaign

Co-create. Make your marketing about your audience and their experience. Ask about their experience. Address them as though they were your collaborators, not your buyers. Make your audience part of your campaign.

5: Talk about your audience

I listen to you, when you’re talking about me. For a start, when you’re talking about me, I’m implicated. I need to listen to make sure you’re getting it right. But also, I like it when you talk about me. It makes me feel important. And finally, it’s interesting when you talk about me; I learn how you see me. And it’s not just me.

If you want to hold an audience’s attention, talk about them. Don’t talk about your organisation or your social theories, if you could talk about your audience instead. (Because who cares about your organisation or your theories? Even if you’re right, your audience might not think you are. And, even if you are right, your audience might not care.) If you talk about your audience, you’ll always be engaging. Try and start sentences with ‘you’, rather than ‘we’. Talk about your audience.

You will find a link to some exemplary marketing material at www.advertzoo.wordpress.com. It’s a collection of interesting marketing material. Much of it talks about the reader.

6: Make it really simple

Cut the jargon. Say it in layman’s terms. Make it really simple.

7: Tell a story

If you’re talking to people, and you want them to remember what they’re hearing, tell them a story. We humans have evolved to respond to stories, and to remember them. Tell a story.

8: Present problem-action-solution

It’s the classic story structure. There’s a problem, there’s some action to tackle the problem, the problem is solved. Use this structure when talking about the work you have done. If you’re a campaigner, put your audience in the story as part of the solution. Present problem-action-solution.

9: Don’t just tell them; show them and involve them

People don’t just need to hear your message: they also need to see it and, somehow, feel it. So don’t just tell them: show them, give them an experience they’ll remember, and then tell them. In that order. Read more.

10: End with a single, simple call to action

At the end, tell your audience the one thing you want them to do next. Lead up to that. Finish by telling them to take that action.

You might have noticed that well-designed webpages have a single, clear button to press. There is no doubt about the action required of the reader. That’s an example of a single, simple call to action.

Your audience is busy. They are not reading your marketing material intensively, in the way they’d read a novel; they are glancing at it. So avoid giving them more than one thing to do. One simple step at a time. End with a single call to action.

Ten questions about your publicity

  1. Are you addressing your ideal audience?
  2. Are you selling the benefits?
  3. Have you shown that you care about your audience?
  4. Do you make your audience part of your campaign?
  5. Are you talking about your audience?
  6. Is your message as simple as it can be?
  7. Do you tell a story?
  8. Do you use a problem-action-solution structure?
  9. Do you show, involve and tell?
  10. Do you finish with a single, simple call to action?

One Comment

  1. This is great. I’m a key player in the start-up of a small friendship group that is meeting to chat – in the manner of cafe-networking. We felt that we’d done the obvious tasks in publicising, but now we have a set of simple tests that we can apply to all our materials, most obviously the flyers and posters that we distribute around the town.
    Thank you, lots!
    Phillip Bicknell