By the Staff of the Fiery Foods & Barbecue SuperSite
In the fiery foods business, an important part of marketing is simply letting people know what products you have for sale. Getting good publicity can make a major difference in your attempts to reach potential consumers. Although you cannot control publicity to the same degree as your advertising efforts, it still can benefit your overall sales plan. Below we’ve listed some reminders and pointers on how to obtain publicity for your products. We’ve discovered that these pointers work very well in obtaining press coverage. Our experience is based on obtaining publicity for Chile Pepper magazine 1987-96, and by evaluating the press packets which arrive at the Fiery Foods & Barbecue SuperSite from companies in the fiery foods industry.
1. Make the editor’s job easy. Most editors are just as busy as you are. During the fast pace of the day, editors will often choose the news which is easiest for them to rewrite for their publications. If you send a clear, well-written press release which simply explains the news about your latest product, you will greatly increase your chances for coverage. In many cases we’ve experienced, if your message is clear and simple enough, an editor may make only minor changes and send it through. To get an idea of the style to follow, study product announcements in food magazines and you’ll improve your press coverage.
2. Plan your publicity. Many companies plan their product development and introductions, plan their direct mail and advertising campaigns, but forget to plan their publicity. Since publicity must coincide with other product time frames, it must be planned. Make a list of publications which cover your type of product and schedule mailings to them.
3. It may not be news to you, but it’s headlines in New Jersey. There may be seven other manufacturers of a similar product in your home city, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t newsworthy somewhere else. Maybe 87% of the population of New Jersey can’t pronounce “jalapeño” properly, but if you get the word out about your unique salsa in New Jersey newspapers, you’ll be surprised to discover how many of their readers will send checks to find out what it tastes like. It doesn’t have to be news to you; it just has to be news to the people you’re trying to reach.
4. Don’t ignore small publications such as weekly newspapers. Smaller publications have smaller writing staffs and must depend on outsiders for copy. Occasionally, articles about products which appear in smaller publications get picked up by news services which supply other smaller papers. The cumulative effect can be great–especially when your phone number gets circulated all over the country.
5. Emphasize the unique aspects of your product. Just another salsa? That won’t be news to us or to anyone else. But maybe it’s made from your grandmother’s recipe and she’s a balloonist! Or maybe the recipe includes rare Bolivian Killagringo peppers! Determine your unique selling proposition and build your release around it.
6. Give a little to get a lot. If you send a sample of your product with the press release, you’ll greatly increase your chances of getting coverage. Believe us–when editors receive an actual product, they have greater confidence in the information they’re passing along to their readers. Plus, they feel slightly obligated to those companies who go out of their way to provide good information with tasty product samples to back it up.
7. Make sure they know how to find you. Even though your stationery has your address and phone number on it, make certain you include them again within the text of the press release. And place this information near the middle of the release, not in the first or last paragraphs, which are most likely to be edited out.
8. Send to people, not to publications. Find out the name of the food editor (or other appropriate editor) and mail your release to that person’s attention. Sending information marked simply “Attn. Food Editor” will diminish your chances for coverage because mail clerks know names better than titles. Without a specific name, your release is likely to end up in the circular file and the sample in the mail clerk’s stomach.
9. Follow up with a phone call. Just as you would with a sales presentation, follow up the press release with a phone call to the individual you sent it to. Ask him or her: “Did you get our release and sample?” “Do you have any questions?” “Are you planning on covering our product?” Yes, we confess that sometimes these calls bug us–but they work!