Missing finger

You can organize all the ways you tell people about your company and its products into five simple categories. The marketing term for that is the promotional mix. Think of it like a hand. The four fingers are publicity, advertising, website and social media. The thumb is personal selling: your sales people. 

Chances are good your marketing hand is missing its index finger. And just like a real hand, it can operate with a missing finger, but it’s much more powerful with all of its digits.

Most companies skip over publicity. The reason for that is it’s hard to get. For the same reason, most agencies don’t sell it. 

I winter in Florida. I noticed a new guy down the block building a big beautiful house so I stopped to talk with him. When I asked what he did for a living, he said he owned a company that cleans factories at night. He said it’s a dirty job most people don’t want to do but if you are willing to do the work, you can make a lot of money. 

After I left, I got to thinking that my agency, which specializes in selling publicity, is based on the same concept. It’s a job most agencies don’t want to do and that gap has provided our agency with a nice business.  

The pitch I stress with our sales staff is the same as it was over 30 years ago when I started the company: “Buy 10 media stories from us. If they work for you, buy more. If they don’t, then stop using us. It’s worth a try.”

Publicity is so underutilized that I sometimes forget I need to explain it to people. I begin by saying it’s earned media coverage. No money changes hands between us and the media. It isn’t paid advertorials that you simply purchase. That’s what other agencies like to sell because it’s easy. With us, we have to convince real reporters and producers that we have a topic their audience would be interested in learning about. That’s why it’s called earned media. 

An example is the publicity we get for Great Clips. Parents need to keep haircut costs low but they don’t want their kid going to school looking like an oddball. So we contact the media and tell them that it would make an interesting story if they interview Great Clips about current hair styles for kids. We do all the work arranging things for the media and let them take all the credit, so they love us. This kids’ hairstyle angle works especially well in August when children are going back to school. We’ve gotten Great Clips lots of media coverage with that topic.

Another example is Breathe Right Nasal Strips. We helped launch Breathe Right many years ago by getting media coverage when no one knew about the product. It’s fun to watch this old clip considering what an iconic brand Breath Right became. 


I could give you hundreds of examples. You’ve no doubt seen our clients’ media stories because we have arranged tens of thousands of them.

By the way, Dr. Cohen called me a couple weeks ago. We hadn’t talked in years. We reminisced about the early days of Breathe Right and he explained a new product he invented that will help with sleep. It’s going to be very big. We signed a deal to get media coverage so when you see something about his low-frequency wave invention in the news, you’ll know we have been at work behind the scenes. 

One of the nice things about media coverage is that it works for all size companies. We have clients who spend millions with us, clients who spend a couple thousand, and everything in between.  

What media coverage boils down to is fame. It’s hard to imagine someone who wants their product to become famous and then not bothering with publicity because it’s hard to get. 

If your marketing hand has been operating without an index finger, you should give us a call at 952-697-5269. We sell media coverage by the story, not by the hour. In other words, you don’t pay us to try to get your product in the news. With us, you always get media coverage for your money. Our rates vary depending on the type of coverage we arrange for you but we stay within budget. We can tell you how much clients spend with us and the average cost per placement when you contact us

I’ll end this letter with my original pitch: “Buy ten media stories from us. If they work for you, buy more. If they don’t, then stop using us. It’s worth a try.” 


Written by Lonny Kocina

Lonny Kocina is the CEO and Founder of Media Relations Agency which has been in business for nearly 35 years. During that time, Kocina also founded and sold two other businesses: Mid America Events and Expos, and Checkerboard Internet Services. Prior to that, Lonny worked as a marketing director for Investment Rarities Inc., a company with sales over 4 billion dollars. Kocina has also been a long time member of Vistage International which is a CEO peer mentoring organization. He was also a volunteer marketing mentor for Junior Achievement and the Carlson School of Business. For fun he has taught Principles of Marketing at the college level, and his recent book, the “CEO’s Guide to Marketing” is an Axiom Business Book silver medal winner as well as an Amazon bestseller. Lonny likes to kid that his third grade teacher may have summed him up best with a note sent home on his report card. “Lonny is a daydreamer and he’s getting worse each day. He complains of a stomach ache a lot and I don’t think he likes school much either.”

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