Saturday, January 13, 2007

Week 21 - What is PR and How Can it Help Me?

For something to be newsworthy, you don’t have to wait until something amazing happens in your business. Consider the following example of Stonyfield Farm, a US based producer of yoghurt and other dairy products. They had a huge Public Relations (PR) success based on nothing other than an innovative approach to building a connection with their consumers:

In the early 1990s Stonyfield Farm announced a "Have a Cow" program which encouraged frequent purchases and which also educated young customers about where the company gets its milk. Consumers who bought five cartons of Stonyfield Farm Yogurt, or 10 servings of its newest frozen yogurt (note this effort was also aimed at selling more product up front!), received a free photo and biography of a cow that produced milk for the company, an adoption certificate, plus a free subscription to the newsletter. Demand far exceeded the number of cows, so many consumers shared their adoptees.

The result of the program was increased sales, but more importantly, the company received publicity from local area newspapers and magazines. The press coverage helped Stonyfield Farm get exclusive frozen yogurt accounts, such as the University of Connecticut and Au Bon Pain, a bakery with more than 120 shops nationwide at the time. The bottom line? "Word of mouth builds better loyalty than advertising," says Gary Hirshberg, President and CEO, Stonyfield Farm.

The burning PR question: What is it about this new customer or event or service that could be interesting to the media?


“How can I create interest in my product or service and ultimately attract the attention of the media?

Anyone who has seen Richard Branson parachute into a product launch or cover the British Airways Concord with a Virgin banner will know what I mean!

Before leaving PR, let’s talk about the number one thing you can do to generate free publicity. Simply become a genuine expert in your field. By studying all aspects of your business or industry and then mixing it with the necessary networking, you could find yourself being quoted whenever the broader issue comes up in the press. Get involved in your local industry group, make yourself heard, write letters to newspaper editors – and anything to build your credibility. Before long you will get enquiries from reporters asking for your opinion. The plan then becomes self fulfilling. The more you are quoted, the more you are seen as the expert, the more people will trust your business which should translate into more sales.

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