Getting your message across

July 15, 2008: 9:32 AM ET

Ask FSB's expert tips for publicizing your products to the national media.

Andrew, Agel Enterprises, Provo, Utah
We're a young company with distribution in more than 40 countries. We are winning numerous national and local awards and feel our innovative gel nutritional supplements tell a great story. However, we're having a difficult time getting our message placed in the media. How do companies utilize national media? We have everything in place for a great story – innovative products, hyper-growth, overcoming the impossible, redefining an industry – but do not necessarily know the best way to get national publications interested. What can we do better?

By Shara Rutberg , Fortune Small Business contributor
Dear Andrew: Review your communications effort, top to bottom: Make sure your public relations programs are as cutting edge as your nutritional supplement gels.

"The age of media is changing; just blasting out info on a product – even if it's the most innovative, coolest thing ever created for the human race - won't work because there is just so much information out there," says Michael Grass, owner of The Intrepid Group, a Salt Lake City-based public relations agency.

Today, you must target your audience and target the media you use to reach them.

"You need to sit down and understand exactly who your target audience is and what influences them," he says. "Then, build relationships with members of the media. Actually try to meet with journalists and show them the product, don't just send words. If you really want to reach your audience you need to build those personal relationships one at a time, rather than blasting out press releases to 500 people."

Make sure journalists understand your product. Use marketing and public relations professionals to communicate your message. Don't try to do it all yourself.

"With a product like yours, one of your challenges will be selling a new item that consumers might not grasp," says Michael Cherenson, chairman-elect of the Public Relations Society of America and partner at Success Communications Group in Parsippany, New Jersey. You have to appeal to the audience - and the journalist - on terms they can relate to, he says.

"For example, I don't wake up in the morning thinking about new nutraceutical products, but I do think about how I can get healthier," he says.

Put your pitch in more human terms, play on emotions. "Tug at the heartstrings," he suggests. Cherenson advises focusing on real people the product is helping, and on third-party endorsements.

"The bottom line is that you've got to give the media something new, interesting and emotional that resonates with the end user," he says.

Give us your advice: Check out recent "Ask & Answer" questions.

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