Five Old School Public Relations Tricks that Still Work in the Modern World

So much of the talk these days is about digital marketing, using the web to make connections and grow your business.


But, marketers must realize, whether it’s growing their business or running any kind of a campaign, that the web is only a tool. A good one, indeed, but only a tool. It’s still really just about people, about making connections that matter, about building trust and strong working relationships.

In the native digital age as Millennials take the helm at leadership positions in businesses and organizations across our state and nation, we encourage each of you to re-visit the basics and add some tried and true “old school” outreach methods to your digital plans. You won’t be sorry. Diversification, integration and follow up make all the difference in the world!

With more than 16 years of running campaigns in Idaho and developing deep, solid relationships with journalists, in this article, our President, China Veldhouse Gum, shares some of her tricks of the trade for getting your business or organizational message out to your best prospects.

Here’s China’s tips for mixing it up and getting noticed:

  1. Direct Mail and Print Advertising

Do you know about digital printing? Even with the proliferation of digital marketing, digital printing is an specialty area where your local print shop can be of great value to you. Digital printing can be done right at the printer’s location and is highly cost effective. It involves taking an Excel spreadsheet of your address mailing list (or a targeted list you purchase) and integrating it with a digital printer to print out custom pieces that you can bulk mail. For some businesses this is ideal.

It’s about being “high touch” rather than “high tech.” In the digital age, not as many companies and organizations send high-quality messages through the mail anymore. You can stand out this way. Custom, full-color envelopes, as well as striking postcards will also get you noticed.

Likewise, running an ad in a targeted print publication often makes sense. Some of our favorites include the newsletters for the major statewide trade associations and the business journals in your area, or even the chamber in your area. This type of advertising is highly effective when launching new offices, locations, products or programs. To get the most value, make sure to ask whether the print publication offers a combo digital/ print package.

  1. Television Advertising

Many business professionals have the erroneous notion that television advertising is mega expensive. This is not always the case, especially when you’re looking to use cable TV. There are so many cable TV shows these days; it seems there is one for every little niche – from cooking, to house flipping, to real estate, to business news. You name it. You have so many choices and the viewership of these cable TV shows is highly targeted. In fact, there are an estimated 27,831 different TV channels in the world.

You also want to check out the business and entrepreneurial interview shows that your local broadcast news outlet produces. These are often easy to arrange an interview and you can often feature a short video clip and refer viewers to a special offer or your website. Call us for more information on how TV advertising can work for you.

One last note: When you need to get a message out fast, in a crisis management situation for example, television advertising is often your best marketing vehicle to reach a very large audience.

  1. Radio Advertising

The same principles for TV advertising work for radio, too. Do some research as to the specific shows that radio stations in your area broadcast. Once you contact the station and interest them in your materials, you can even do the interview in your pajamas on the phone. There’s also internet radio shows and podcasts where you can be a guest. Radio is great for generating awareness in a hyper-local area, whether it’s a neighborhood or a small town.

We have many contacts in TV and radio that we can contact on your behalf.

  1. Phone Calls

Especially these days when almost everything is on smartphones, making a real media outreach call about a topic that matters can be highly effective, especially when you’re wanting to reach editors, reporters, bloggers, and content and PR managers. Before you call, know what you want to say and keep it short and conversational. Don’t just talk. Ask questions and listen. Be ready to offer to send a PDF summary and/or your PR materials as an immediate follow up (or have the information posted on a page on your website that’s not in your navigation and email people a link to that special “secret” page.)

Phones calls are the primary way to really keep a business relationship moving forward. Remember, you want to become a source of awesome, worthwhile news and information, and to be known as an expert in your field or industry that they can call upon for quotes for articles they are writing or videos they’re producing.

One caution though: Only contact editors by phone when you have something of real news value to share. Save phone calls for rare news tips and for giving media contacts a heads up on your major releases, special events and press conferences. Consider: How can I give this person the best scoop of his/her day?

You’ll want to develop and cultivate a targeted PR database for your company or organization. For example, we have strong connections with Idaho reporters at all of the major news outlets across the state, including, the Idaho Statesman, the Idaho Post Register, the Lewiston Tribune, the Coeur d’Alene Press, many journalists in Boise, and others. For example, a call to Marty Trillhaus, Nate Shelman, Chuck Malloy, Cynthia Sewell, Nate Brown can really set the ball rolling! We make use of our connections in smart ways, always showing respect for others’ time, schedule and expertise.

  1. Networking and Word of Mouth

Last but not least, remember to be seen. Make time at least once a month to review the events that are happening in the next 30 days and make plans to attend. Enter them into your calendar. If you are launching a new product or getting into a new target market, find out when associations are having their next meeting and go. For example, if you’re offering any type of service to contractors, your local and state home builders association is a great place to make contacts.

Find an electronic way to follow up on the contacts you make when networking. And remember, whatever goes around comes around. Be reciprocal. Offer to introduce someone you meet to someone you already know. If you meet someone for lunch or coffee as a follow up, specifically ask him/her which type of contacts would be most beneficial to grow their business or organization.

We have experience with local news reporters, production of collateral, access to public officials, connections to multiple award-winning ad agencies, TV and radio ad creation and placement, investigative journalism skills, communications strategy, strategic mail creation, public advocacy campaigns, lobbying, marketing, government relations, public relations, and crisis management consulting.

So, give us a call. Rise above all of the internet chatter and self-promoting tweets to get your message heard in an old fashioned – yet thoroughly modern – manner.

(Stay tuned for our top ways to move the needle in your direction with all our NEW media options.)

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