The Power Of Publicity; Promotion Builds Potential Client Awareness

Publicity is one of the most overlooked areas of marketing for photographers. The protocol for obtaining this less conspicuous but very important promotional tool has three basic steps: submission of information about your work to the media; confirmation of acceptance; and final publishing. Publicity provides benefits without the high cost of ads or the labor-intensive effort of sales calls. The aim is to establish name recognition and credibility without a lot of cost.

Unlike other forms of promotion, such as advertising, publicity is not for sale. Your time writing an e-mail or the cost of a stamp used to submit your story to the media is the only price you will pay. Although you lose the direct control that accompanies the purchase of an advertisement, you gain other benefits. For example, reprints of publicity materials work very well as promotional pieces. Enhanced reputation and greater credentials are other assets that in total help build your business through "word of mouth."

All Photos © 2008, FireEyes Photography, All Right Reserved

Because you can't buy the editorial space, there is no guarantee that your submission will be published. The chances of obtaining publicity may be better if you choose to hire a Public Relations (PR) professional. When you make this type of investment in your business, it is money well spent. PR firms move publicity campaigns forward with vigor. By bringing your newsworthy ideas to a PR firm, you get both the advice and the assistance needed to offer a better chance at success. The return on investment can pay you back many times over in the value-added marketing gained by your photo business.

To get a handle on how all this works I recently interviewed a PR firm and a photographer on the aspects of a successful publicity campaign. Erika Taylor at Three Girls Media & Marketing, Inc.

(www.threegirlsmedia.com) works with Trishann Couvillon of FireEyes Photography (www.fire-eyes.com).

Shutterbug: What is the true value of publicity to a photographer's business?

Erika Taylor: Credibility, visibility, and brand exposure. Publicity gives consumers confidence in your skills and expertise as a photographer. Even if you claim expertise in your ads, people are likely to be skeptical. A strategic publicity campaign can also help photographers become well-known for certain skills or styles. If they are technically innovative, have extremely unique artistic viewpoints, or other noteworthy talents, a good PR plan can help create, brand, and solidify their place in the photographic industry, and with potential clients.

SB: What other PR tactics do you recommend aside from sending out press releases?

ET: We rarely recommend press releases as the most effective PR tactic. Individualized story ideas or news sent to specific reporters and editors often result in much greater success and a higher level of media coverage.

Blogging is one of the hottest and most cost-effective publicity tools available to photographers. Blogs, if managed properly, can dramatically increase search engine ranking and web traffic while simultaneously building credibility. Some successful blogging sites may offer photographic tips, trends, ideas for the "home" photographer, and of course, plenty of their best images.

"eNewsletters" are also a fantastic publicity tool. They offer a great way to communicate regularly with the past and present customer base. Showcase the latest accomplishments or projects to remind people of what services are available; announce media coverage; and think outside of the box to develop more ideas that will communicate specific skills and talents. An eNewsletter is equally as cost-conscious as a blog, but can include an advertising component with a coupon or special offer. If gaining new business is a key part of your PR plan, consistently attend networking events and seize each opportunity to meet potential new clients or other professionals in the industry. Begin promoting your services in person, on a local level, and always attend with a portfolio. As the old cliché goes, "A picture is worth a thousand words!" If the event offers display tables or sponsorship opportunities, consider taking advantage of them for greater visibility.

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