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Thoughts on Publicity


  • No one needs publicity
    • Publicity is not your goal.
  • Publicity supports your goals.
    • You should know and understand your goals – getting visitors/patrons in the door, achieving membership, enacting program, etc. If you can tell compelling stories about your goals, you can achieve publicity to support your goals.
  • No one deserves publicity.
    • Publicity is not an award or reward. Publicity is a story, and stories are tools.
    • If you have no story, you should avoid publicity.
  • Publicity is not the only tool for telling your story.
    • Everything you do should be directed toward telling your story: Your web content and design, your publications, your events, your staff, your audiences, volunteers and donors.
  • Align your story with other and/or larger stories.
    • External media have their own stories to tell. To get publicity, become part of their story. They will only tell the part of your story that aligns with their story.
    • Others will retell your story when it supports their story. So, in publicity, your support must support your goals, but it must match the medium’s goals as well.
  • Publicity is one of many steps.
    • What is the next step? What happens once you have achieved publicity? What is the follow through? Who is responsible for taking the next step? How will the entire process move you closer to your goal?
  • Often, the strongest stories are wordless.
    • Imagine a picture showing smiling people at a location that can only be your facility. How many words are needed are now needed to effectively communicate the content of that photo?
  • Understand what publicity can actually achieve.
    • It can support your brand, provide reasons to believe, build awareness/motivation, increase your reputation, crystallize opinion and set the stage.
  • People need help to tell your story.
    • When someone tells your story, what description will they use? What images? What facts? Where will they refer readers/viewers or acquaintances for more information? Make sure to provide resources.
  • Publicity is not consistent.
    • If someone else gets publicity for something, don’t assume you can too. Maybe it was a slow news day. Maybe their story seemed new in some way, but now it’s been done. (It’s now “olds.”) Maybe you can pitch the story in a month, six months, a year. Maybe you can’t.
  • Publicity fails 90 percent of the time
    • In baseball, if you fail two-thirds of the time, you’re in the Hall of Fame. With publicity, feel lucky if you fail 90 percent of the time.