Cheap PR

When money is tight, it’s difficult to push products with high profile campaigns. On the other hand you can’t pull the plug entirely on ‘P for promotion’.

Kotler’s suggestion: at the very least keep money aside for PR. In one spectacular case, a small company grew sales by 15% year-on-year, purely through effective PR.

I saw some similarly satisfying results in my early days in marketing (ok, I was still a student). On a £15 budget I plugged an event in a national newspaper (p1 Maggie Thatcher, p2 me throwing a boomerang), on national and local radio, on regional TV news channels and in all local papers.

The trick? After a recommendation from a journalist I found a story with a powerful enough “hook” to get journalists’ pens quivering: we invited the Duke and Duchess of York (Andy and Fergie) to the first international boomerang tournament to be held on English soil – on the very day of their first visit to capital city of their duchy: York. Then we sent out press releases.

Sadly the Duke and Duchess never came, but on a shoestring budget we got some great headlines.

Now to a more business-related example of Kotler’s “cheap publicity”. Here’s a website screenshot from the Frankfurter Allgemeine, copyright naturally with them :


Mercedes pulled off their coup when they launched the Mercedes museum. Rather than roll out big campaigns to pull in the crowds, they took the softly softly approach and saved tons of money. The marketing instrument: a press release.

The story that provided the hook they needed was about a taxi in the museum (a Mercedes of course) which had driven 4.5 million miles in Greece, and was still going strong. This is the sort of story journalists love. So they wrote about it, put it in the papers, online, on TV and the radio. Excellent publicity, that looks like it’s from a 3rd party, and very cheap.

Alex Woodruff

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