The Power of Publicity

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The rapid pace of the world today means it's even more important to be remembered by your customers. "Every month hundreds of thousands of new companies with stacks of new products and services flood media channels, so it's imperative to find new ways for your products to be noticed and stand out in such a crowded marketplace," says Marsha Friedman, CEO of publicity firm Event Management Services.

Besides the standard marketing efforts involving direct mail and display advertising, some dealers are focusing their media efforts to the home screen. "TV is one of the most tangible forms of media to promote your company and products to the masses," Friedman says. "TV enables your target market to actually see and hear why your product is of value to them. The visual you create leaves the audience with a lasting impression you just can't make on radio or in print."

But just because you've been invited to be a guest on a local cable show, and you're an expert on your products, doesn't mean you make "good TV." "There's something called a likability factor that involves a variety of tools you need to have for the masses to really sit up, pay attention and buy into your message."

So sit up and pay attention, dealers. Friedman's going to give you a few tips on how to raise your likability factor on television.

First up, be energetic. "Hosts and producers don't want duds on their show. The more engaging you appear, the more interested and involved the audience will feel," she says.

Watch your body language. Don't tap your feet or squirm in your chair. Hand gesturing while you talk is fine, but don't overexaggerate the movements. "And make sure you don't make loud sounds that could interfere with your microphone," she notes. (You might want to skip the breakfast burrito that day ... )

Be honest. If you're asked a question that you don't know how to answer, "it's better to admit you're not sure about something than to give out incorrect information," Friedman says. The best way to avoid this? Prepare. Research news topics that are associated with your business, such as motorcycle safety statistics, helmet laws or off-road land use. But ...

... Don't sound rehearsed. "You don't want to sound like you're reading from a telemarketing script," she notes. "That's a cue for viewers to simply tune out. They want to be entertained and informed, not sold to." So jot down the points you want to cover. "Then, when it's time for the interview, focus on those talking points and always bring your answers back to your key message," she adds.

Don't go on ... and on. ... Keep your message simple and easy to understand, so viewers can relate to you, she says. "Also, avoid insider jargon or technical terms that the general public may not be familiar with. Your goal is to achieve broad appeal to a wide audience; you can't do that if they can't understand you."

Pace yourself. You're really having a conversation with the show's host. Talk at a normal pace, and listen to the interviewer's questions.

Be descriptive. Friedman reminds dealersthat a good portion of the television audience may not be actually watching the screen; rather, they could be getting dinner ready or watching their kids. "Help paint a picture with your words," she recommends.

If you stumble or stutter, move on. Don't dwell on your mistakes, and don't get flustered. "Even the most experienced news anchors flub a line from time to time," she notes.

Get to the point. Don't ramble. "You'll lose your audience with long-winded answers that go on and on," Friedman says. Remember that a bored viewer will quickly change the channel.