Marketing Tactics

by admin on September 18, 2017


Marketing:“It’s your job to make the story come alive.”

“Success With the Media”

I wrote, “Success With the Media, Everything You Need to Survive Reporters and Your Organization” (available at Barnes and Noble and Amazon at because I believe that organizations need to look inward to get better media results.

I use contents from the book for this article.

Some believe that we should not talk to reporters. I maintain that not talking leaves you without influence; you are committing yourself to a negative story. The trick is to know how to talk to the media.


Leonard Adam Sipes, Jr.

Thirty-five years of supervising award-winning media relations, radio and television; over fifty national and regional awards. Interviewed multiple times by every national news outlet. Post-Master’s Certificate of Advanced Study, Johns Hopkins University.


“It’s your job to make the story come alive.”

Up to this point, we’ve focused on media relations strategies that involve reacting to requests or events and personal survival skills. Now it’s time for an entirely different perspective.

In the Introduction, I said, “The most important aspect of taking a long-range view is building relationships. We cannot succeed unless we build meaningful and productive interactions with the media and the public. Everything we are and all we can be must be built on trust.” I tried to convey the need to create relationships throughout my book, but marketing takes public interactions to a different level.

Marketing may be one of the most important things you can do to keep your organization safe and goal-oriented. Constant self-initiated contact with reporters and the larger community sends a message—we’re ready for discussion; we’re ready to engage; we’re not afraid of our issues.

Media interviews work within the context of knowledge and trust. You cannot do a good job responding to media inquiries if the media know little or nothing about you. To do well, you have to market. Many on the receiving end of constant negative media inquiries are the opposite. They never engage. They never invite the public in for a dialogue. They give the impression that they have something to hide. To survive, news organizations need to see you as honorable people doing an honorable job.

To do well, you have to market. Many on the receiving end of constant negative media inquiries are the opposite. They never engage. They never invite the public in for a dialogue. They give the impression that they have something to hide. To survive, news organizations need to see you as honorable people doing an honorable job.

The Most Interesting Person

What makes any event succeed is a little bit of hard news and a lot of human interest and visuals. Work hard to find the most interesting people connected to the story. Sit down and interview them. Find out what makes them interesting. Relay this information to the media.

Strive to find an individual who describes his struggle in terms that the average person can relate to. Find Mr. “Every Man” and Ms. “Every Woman” who describes a story of adversity, and hopefully of success against all odds. This person could be from your engineering department, someone who struggled for years before finding the right formula for a new product. She could be the one who discovered a new way to recycle. Or she may offer an improved method of placing foster children into the homes of loving parents, and at the same time you discover that she, too, was raised in a foster home.

The bottom line behind this advice is to put the most interesting people up front and place your executives in the rear. Some executives may not love you, but the media will, and you will get the story. That will please the chief executive!

As to press conferences, I am not suggesting that important people be ignored. Have the most important people there as the main speakers, be sure that they acknowledge others by name and laud their contributions. Celebrate them. Just don’t ask them to speak unless they are primary characters in the story. Even then, ask them to hold their remarks to a minute or two.

One Reporter

Sometimes the best way of publicizing your event is to pitch a truly interesting story to one reporter with hopes of having it picked up by the Associated Press. This means placing it with a major newspaper reporter and giving him or her an exclusive.

You will know whether a reporter is excited about your idea early in the process. With your willingness to throw in compelling visuals and interviews with your leadership, you may find that the best way of distributing your media release is not distributing it at all. Your interested reporter will do the job for you.

The drawback to this strategy is that it may take weeks to employ. Positive information, regardless of how compelling, is generally soft news that may take a back seat to hard news stories. I have waited months for a finished positive story to appear. It was so long that the editors were waiting for a “lull in the action” before running it.

I suggest you give a like-minded reporter the time to develop the story properly. Ending up on the front page of a major newspaper will provide your issue with a ton of positive publicity.

You also have the option (or obligation depending on the circumstances) of running a media release concurrently with the reporter’s story. So you have the best of all worlds: a front-page newspaper article plus an Associated Press story and a media release automatically sent to all others in your market. It does not get any better than this.

No Money to Market

Some context: In my world, the majority of public affairs people possess few or limited resources to market. I understand that some reading this book will have reasonable or considerable assets, but most will not. As a consequence, I try to present strategies that are achievable by anyone. All of my successes in promotions had very challenging budgets.

Obviously, there has to be “some” money and person power available, but I maintain that you can obtain millions of dollars in marketing while stretching available dollars to their limit. But we cannot do a good job of marketing without a brief understanding of traditional methods of advertising. There are lessons to be learned that apply to us all regardless of budget.

Advertising Agencies: Important Lessons

Major corporations along with a few government organizations (with dedicated funding to promote an issue) spend billions of dollars to systematically promote products, ideas, and themselves while achieving defined goals. Messages are usually defined by action: buy a burger, buy a car, give to the Red Cross, etc. Keep this in mind.

For corporations, marketing means the choice of a competent public relations firm, managing their accounts, and paying for their efforts. General Motors, McDonald’s, Google, Apple, and your local hospital or car dealership all live and die on efforts to publicize their products and entice people to spend their money. You may think of Google as a search engine. It’s not. It’s an advertising platform. The same applies to Facebook and the majority of social media sites. All have to study their data, monetize, or die.

Algorithms employed by every business crunch huge amounts of data that tells organizations (or the National Security Agency) what’s happening in their worlds. The numbers are meant to do one thing: create the most effective methods to accomplish their goals.

Developing a Message

Those of us who lack advertising budgets can successfully market. The trick is to understand what we mean by marketing. Corporations who live and die based on their ability to market establish very tight and precise messages. They understand that the public has a very limited tolerance for unclear messages. Developing that message is an essential ingredient in changing images or convincing a person to take a specific action. Establishing a reputation for quality and value is their ultimate goal. They want to convince you that their product is worthy of your attention. An endless amount of effort will go into producing a brand or slogan that you will remember favorably. They will invest years establishing overriding communication objectives. Marketers will pick measurable messages and hammer away at them relentlessly.


What can we learn from this process? Brevity is next to godliness. We need communication objectives that are clean, crisp, and easy to understand that resonate with the general public. The public has limited patience—something that professional advertisers take for granted. Some of our representatives ramble on endlessly. No one seems to have the ability to get to the point.

We bristle at the thought of fact sheets instead of long documents. We rebel at taking complicated court decisions and turning them into one-page submissions that the average person will understand. We use ten pages of explanation when four paragraphs will do just fine. Some of us find it beneath our dignity, education, and standing to communicate with pinpoint accuracy.

But we harm ourselves in the process. We would rather be vague and obscure principally because we’re encouraged to be that way. We produce grammatically correct but imprecise press releases because we are taught that tactical writing is an art that marks us as educated human beings.

Me and McGruff

During the “McGruff-Take a Bite Out of Crime” national media campaign I ran two federally funded national information centers on crime prevention and spoke to the media. I supplied crime research and statistics and worked with some of the best in the advertising world. I saw firsthand how effective the marketing and creative communities could be (Saatchie and Saatchie was the pro-bono agency working through the Ad Council). They offered me the chance to learn advertising, and I incorporated those principles into successful shoestring and low-budget media campaigns. I could take small amounts of money and turn it into successful marketing that achieved specific goals because of what I was taught. So can you.

The folks at Saatchie told me that I had to agree to surgically remove the top of my head, extract all prior knowledge of what I thought advertising was and open myself up to the creative process. If I wasn’t willing to throw away all preconceived notions of marketing and advertising, and if I could not get in touch with my creative side, there was little sense in teaching me their craft.

Two things became apparent through the McGruff campaign; the professional marketers I worked with were amazingly creative, and we became the nation’s most successful public service marketing effort. They were smart, funny, and engaging. They understood what it takes to get people to do something.

All of us wish that we could take advantage of the work of advertising agencies. If we cannot, we can at least keep their methods and objectives in mind. What they do and how they do it contains important lessons for the rest of us. They are simply amazing; we should pay attention.

Next Up

More on Building Relationships and Marketing.

Success With the Media

For more information on good organizational and media relations, see “Success With The Media: Everything You Need To Survive Reporters and Your Organization,” available from Barnes and Noble and Amazon at  Your reviews are appreciated.

See my website at

Contact me at


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