I've run posts similar to this in the past, but with "Marketing Monday" moved to today because of the Memorial Day holiday, the topic ties in perfectly with Scott Bourne's post to help you find more customers.
Here's the challenge, if you don't get out and talk about your business, nobody else will. While there are all kinds of vehicles out there to help you, I'm just going to focus on some basics and a template you can use right in your own community with local publications, the Chamber of Commerce, etc.
Right out of the blocks, so many of you miss things that are newsworthy! I'm amazed at how many exciting things happen to a photographer every day, but nobody ever talks about them! Some events are more news worthy than others, but here's the real issue, the responsibility to spread the word about your business rests with entirely with you!
Start thinking about everything that happened in your business in the last few weeks. Some times the most routine events can be newsworthy with the right spin. Did you attend a workshop or convention? Did you hire a second shooter? Were you hired as a second shooter? Are you starting to diversify your business and now photographing pets, high school seniors etc.? Are you working with a new album company? (Check out Venice Album - they've got an amazing lineup of products, of which any one of their products lines would make a good story about your business!)
What are some of the new products your lab is now offering? Are you working with a new lab? Do you print your work yourself and are you now using new papers - or, maybe you ramped up and are about to buy a new large format printer? Are you involved in a new charity? Are you doing something with Thirst Relief, NILMDTS or local community charities? Did you just purchase new equipment that gives you greater versatility when shooting? Are you sponsoring any community event? Are you a volunteer for any programs in the school system? Got the picture?
The list can go on and on, but don't limit yourself to topics. There are no rules for the list, just everything you did over the last few weeks. Next, do the same list of things you're planning on doing in the near future.
Now, let's talk about what to do with those lists. Each topic has the potential to help you become a publicity machine, but you have to take the time to write it up or find somebody who will write it up for you. Let's assume you're going to the Summer Session of SCU in August. You're going to take classes to expand your skill set. You're going to meet other photographers. You're going to work with some of the finest photo-educators in the world. Opportunities for a press release will be everywhere.
Here's a template you can use...yup - you can plagiarize all you want - it's yours.
For Immediate Release
Your city, Today’s Date
Area Photographer Attends International Photographic Workshop
In (his/her) continued efforts to expand the broad selection of cutting edge photographic services, ________________recently attended Skip Cohen University in Chicago, a three day professional photographic workshop series.
“There’s never been a more exciting time to be a professional photographer or, to have images created by a professional. Technology is changing all the time and I want to make sure I’m offering my clients the very best!” said ____________________(your name).
_______________ is the founder of _________(your studio name) and is located here in ______________. The studio offers a full range of (commercial portrait,wedding,childrens, etc.) services. Or use: _________ plans on continuing as a freelance photographer…etc. You don't have to have an address for people - you just want to let them know you're in the community.
For more information contact: Your name, phone and email address
This is a template, only applying to the one event, but the elements of any press release are always going to be the same. 1) A headline and an opening paragraph that describes what the event is. 2) Personally, I like a quote that explains your position as it relates to your customers. 3) The third paragraph just describes your business, who and where you are. 4) Always close with a contact line so people know where to find you.
Always include a photograph of you at the event interacting with other attendees, a speaker or a vendor. The more people in the image, the more likely it will be published. In this case you'd want to get a shot with Joe McNally, Michele Celentano, Clay Blackmore or any of the other instructors. Maybe it's a shot of you interacting with one of the vendors, like Venice Album and then use the press release to talk about new products you're offering your clients.
Next, let's talk about what you're going to do with the press release:
You're going to print a hard copy and include it with a print of you at the event. You're also going to put the image and the press release on a disk.
Here's the hard part - it's not really hard, but people never do it. Develop a press list for your business with the actual names of the people you want to contact. People tend to think just sending things addressed to the editor are enough, but you need a real name on the front of the envelope.
Your press releases should go to anybody who publishes anything reaching your target audience. For example, the local newspaper, the Chamber of Commerce, if you're involved in organizations like Kiwanis, Rotary, Exchange Club, they all have newsletters, blogs that might reach your audience, your own blog, bridal magazines and even your home town paper if you've moved away, but still have roots in the community.
Last but not least, send everything in a priority Fedex, UPS or US Post Office envelope - it gives your information a level of importance and will help get through the noise.
My suggestion to start is to send out at least one release twice a month for the first three months and then back off to one a month, but just like a blog - you have to be consistent and continue the effort, even when nothing seems to be happening. You never know when an over-worked editor is going to be out of time and out of stories and have a gaping hole in his/her publication - that's when it just might be your lucky day!
There's too much to talk about and add it to this post, but take a look at PRWeb. Working with their marketing team, Vocus, you can get into some pretty sophisticated PR programs that you can maintain yourself, but you have to walk before you can run! Personally, I love starting with a series of releases similar to this template. You can also do a great job in making it look official on your blog and then use your Tweet stream and Facebook to help promote the message.
Here's the link to a series of releases we've done for SCU to help you get the idea more. All of these were through Vocus/PrWeb. Click on any of the summary paragraphs to see the full release along with the photographs.
Most important of all be patient - most of you will be starting from scratch and it takes time to build a following.
"The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing it open!" Arnold Glasgow
Illustration Credit: © Rafal Olechowski - Fotolia.com