Big Mistake

It’s a little embarrassing to admit, but for the last 25 years I thought the main reason companies hired us to get publicity for them was because we charge per story we arrange and not by the hour. I beat that drum relentlessly in everything I wrote and said for the last 25 years. Then one day it dawned on me: our Pay Per Interview® pricing isn’t the main reason people buy. It’s the clincher. People buy from us primarily because they have a story to tell.

The sad part is, I’m supposed to be a “marketing expert”. You’d think that after owning a marketing company for 25 years, teaching marketing, and writing endlessly on the subject, that maybe I could get my own stuff right. I’ve decided to punish myself in a way similar to writing “Pay Per Interview is not the primary reason companies hire us to arrange their publicity” on a blackboard 100 times: By writing a detailed description of every other reason I can think of that people should use publicity to market their product. So here goes:

Reason #1. Businesses have a story (stories) to tell.

Sales and marketing in their simplest form are the process of transferring information from one brain (the seller) to another (the buyer). On a base level, our brains ingest information through our five senses. We touch, we taste, we smell, we see and we hear. The way we use three of our senses – touch, taste and smell – has yet to advance beyond the way we used them as babies. But the introduction of written and spoken words catapults our ability to use sight and sound to transfer information from one brain to another.

Think about it. Each word you are currently reading (293 so far) represents a complex concept. Our brains can string together and process these concepts at lightning speed. Truly amazing.

But words are far from perfect at transferring information. Concepts exist independently of the words we use to describe them. Words are useful but they are more like a clue to the concept rather than an exact representation.

Think of the number of times you’ve sat across the table from someone, explained something you wanted them to do, asked them to repeat it back to you, and then thought to yourself “are we even on the same planet?”

Because words are not exact representations of concepts, the more words we use, the more likely we are to get our point across to the person receiving the message. There’s an old adage in direct market advertising: the more you tell the more you sell. I think it holds true because of the imperfect nature of words. If you want to get a point across, the more time you have to explain it (lots and lots of words) the better your chances for success.

Sales and marketing are especially difficult. Consider the “D” in the AIDA principle: Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. Getting someone to desire your product more than their money is a high bar to get over. Ask most sales people how much time they need with a customer to get to that point and it’s common to hear, “more than an hour”. Humans speak at about 150 words per minute. Let’s assume our salesperson is a good listener and is only speaking half the time. That’s still 4,500 words. And don’t forget each word represents a complex concept.

God gives us all gifts and gaps, and some people are extremely gifted at using words to transfer information. Many of these gifted communicators end up working in the media. Think about it; they are highly trained, top of the class, professional story tellers. And by the way, so are most CEOs and marketers.Get these two people working together, and one plus one can equal five.

Other than my admitted 25-year lapse of having our PR firm’s primary customer value points out of order, I’m a pretty good story teller. But when we get reporters and producers to do stories about our company, they can often tell my story better than I can. Sure, they don’t have the depth of knowledge I do, but they always seem to turn a phrase or give an analogy I wish I’d thought of. About 20 years ago, a business reporter wrote a story about the media’s need for the clients our company represents. He said, “The media is a monster that needs to be fed every day.” This one little phrase helps the reader understand the media’s insatiable demand for new stories. Since then, I’ve used it hundreds of times in my marketing.

I was talking with a CEO last week who is anxious to use our service. He was telling me about his company and how important it is that the media write a story about the products his company offers. As he talked, he explained his employees’ expert depth of knowledge and how critical it is that the public learns about what they offer. He was really getting revved up and I thought, “I can’t wait to get this guy talking to reporters and producers.” I’m repeating myself but when passion for a product meets the skill of great communicators, there is magic.

If you have a story to tell — and what company doesn’t — consider telling it through media stories. Media stories give you the time and space to be persuasive. Publicity is without a doubt the most under-utilized promotional channel marketers have at their disposal.

No one can connect you with more journalists than our publicists. Over the last two decades they have arranged tens-of-thousands of media stories and have established countless contacts and relationships. Leverage our 25 years of industry expertise to get publicity for your company and products.

Heather Champine heads up our team of publicists. She has been with us for 17 years, is smart as a whip and came right out of the gate as one of our most productive publicists. She has a wealth of practical experience connecting companies with the media. Think of her as a direct line to every media outlet in the country. She’s a good contact to have. Give her a call at 952-697-5269.



Written by Lonny Kocina

Lonny pioneered the concept of our nationally trademarked Pay Per Interview Publicity® business model which allows clients to purchase publicity by the story rather than pay hourly with no guarantee of coverage. His business foresight is evident in many ways including quickly reserving portal web addresses such as publicity, media relations, and checkerboard, and advising clients to do the same. In his spare time and as a way of giving back, Lonny teaches marketing as an adjunct faculty member at Dakota Technical College.