November 7, 2002
Published by The
George McKenzie, Editor

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Here are the headlines (also known in the news biz as

*** Trick or treat? Today Show host Katie Couric got
"tricked" into giving some free advertising on Thursday
morning's show. But if you try the same strategy with your
local media, you can bet that your efforts will not result
in a "treat." Quite the opposite.

*** Plagiarism never pays. But in the case of one TV
meteorologist, it DOES prove a point: milking the media for
free publicity is getting easier than ever.

*** Do well by doing good... Trudy Schuett's success story
shows how free publicity can result from helping others.

*** Plus three guest articles and a list of resources that
will help you drive in traffic and drive up sales...

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Quick Publicity Tip: NEVER try this at home

Did you see it on the Today Show Halloween morning?

Katie Couric was outside the studio "on the street" talking
to people wearing Halloween costumes.

She stopped in front of a man who was dressed as a
cigarette butt.

When she asked him about his outfit, he didn't respond.
Suddenly, a woman jumped out from behind him and started
talking about a certain nicotine patch and how it helped
people shake the smoking habit.

Katie moved away as quickly as she could, saying something
like, "I didn't know we were going to be doing a commercial

In any case, if you saw the "incident" and it may have
inspired you to try something similar with your local TV
station, I have a word of advice.


In fact I have three words of advice.


I don't know what the eventual fallout was from the Today
Show, but if you try a stunt like that locally, you can kiss
goodbye any hope of ever getting free airtime from that
particular media outlet again.

And believe me, it will also be the topic of conversation in
newsrooms at other stations in your area.

Can you say "Blackball?"

There are plenty of ways to get free publicity through a
little creativity and imagination. People in the media need
your help more than ever (see main the article below), and
if you gain their respect by playing the game their way,
you'll get repeated opportunities for free exposure and

Don't try to fool journalists or stoop to cheap tricks like
the folks promoting the nicotine patch.

It might work once, but after that, you'll always find
yourself getting kicked out "on your butt."

For specifics on how to gain the respect and attention of
the media through a press release and other legitimate
strategies, see

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Feature Article: Help the media and they'll help you

by George McKenzie

Two things happened in the last week here in San Antonio
that prove there are some real opportunities available right
now for anyone who wants to get free publicity on TV.

Both incidents also confirm what I wrote in my October 3rd
column about "lazy" journalists.

To refresh your memory (and for the sake of subscribers who
have come on board since then), I wrote that these are tough
times for the working press. Those who havenít been
driven out of the business by low pay and longer hours find
themselves stretched to the point of distraction by
declining newsroom budgets and staff cuts due to corporate
consolidations, mergers and downsizing.

As a result, some people have concluded journalists have
gotten lazy because they don't return calls, answer emails
or respond to story pitches like they have in the past.

The sad truth is, as I pointed out last month, a lot of them
are finding it more difficult--not just to do the job well--
but simply to do it RIGHT.

Example 1: A morning news anchor on KMOL TV here in San
Antonio was filling in for the usual host on a "lifestyle"
talk show. He was interviewing "Shipping News" author Annie
Proulx, and it wasn't going well. The anchor, who also
doubled as one of the stationís hard-nosed investigative
"troubleshooters," stumbled through the conversation badly,
trying his best to sound intelligent about the topic. It
was obvious, though, he was clueless.

Toward the end of the interview he admitted, in so many
words, that he didn't know what he was talking about. He
hadn't read the book and hadn't seen the movie.

Example 2: The San Antonio Express-News reported in its
October 25th edition that it would no longer run a weather-
related column by a popular local TV meteorologist. The
meteorologist admitted that he had plagiarized material in a
number of his columns, borrowing directly from someoneís
website information without attribution.

The meteorologist apologized to readers but noted that
writing a column four times a week in addition to his other
duties was an "overwhelming task."

It reminded me of what my friend John Willing told me when
he "dropped out" of the TV business after being the chief
meteorologist at a San Antonio station for 18 years.

Station management required John to do a newspaper column
six times a week as part of his duties. They also expected
him to answer all e-mail questions by viewers personally AND
prepare and deliver three weathercasts each day on the
stationís regularly scheduled newscasts. On top of that, he
was expected to make numerous public appearances "on his own

His 8-hour day grew to more like 10-11.

Four years ago, he resigned to "pursue other interests"
which would allow him more time with his wife and three
young children.

Okay, it took a while for me to get to the real point I want
to make--which IS NOT that you should feel sorry for any of
these folks.

My point IS however, that their circumstances now give you a
better opportunity than ever to "milk" the media for free
publicity, because people in the media need more help than
ever to do their jobs.

Find ways to become a genuine resource for those folks who
no longer have time to do simple things an outsider would
think are "just part of the job." Youíll reap a bonanza of
coverage and exposure for yourself from grateful

For specific ideas, see the following articles on our
website at

Also visit Joan Stewartís "Publicity Hound" website at
http://www.get-free-publicity.com/publicityhound.htm  and
check out

Special Report #5: How to Identify Story Ideas Within Your
Company or Organization

Special Report #7: How to Write the Perfect Pitch Letter
that Convinces an Editor to Write About You

Special Report #11: Secrets for Building Your Celebrity

Special Report #19: How to Use Polls and Surveys That Brand
You as an Expert

Special Report #22: How to Create an Online Media Room - and
Keep the Media Coming Back

Special Report #25: How to Pitch Reporters Over the
Telephone and Make Every Second Count.

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Success Story: Trudy Schuett

A few weeks ago, I posted some "publicity problems"
subscribers had asked me about. Then I asked readers to
contribute publicity-generating ideas to solve those

Subscriber Don Bailie asked for help brainstorming "ways to
try and help people that are unemployed by getting them a
computer, and getting them on the internet."

Trudy Schuett of cyberManbooks http://www.cyberManbooks.com
responded with the following success story:

"This is pretty ambitious, maybe, but it will be a win-win
situation for me, and everybody else associated!

What I'm doing is setting up a networking event once a month
for computer professionals and businesses that use
computers. This way the unemployed can connect with the
businesses needing quality staff, and vice versa. We'll also
have speakers come to do useful talks for tech people,
and/or we can all talk shop. Businesses that participate on
a regular basis will get thanks via links from our websites,
(not to mention the aforementioned staff) and some
of their own free publicity. I've hooked up with a larger
organization that does the same thing in the bigger cities
in AZ. They are promoted by some of the major media outlets,
as well having a massive mailing list of their own. I've
already had offers of speakers willing to come and present
for free, because it's a community service organization. We
have free meeting space from a bookstore that sells computer
books and software.

I don't have an office in town, I work out of my house, so
I've partnered with an acquaintance in a slightly different
field for this project. He does computer repair, sales, and
installation, while I am an e-publisher and editor. This way
we have a convenient location to meet the media before the
first event. We have the enthusiastic cooperation
of the business editor of our local paper. (One small
mention in her weekly column was a huge help to my sales &
repair guy in getting his business off the ground, BTW.) We
expect the rest of the media to follow suit. Again, because
this is a community service event, they'll be more than
willing to give us airtime. As the co-creators of this
project, my buddy and I will get the lion's share of the
initial publicity, as well as being mentioned as sponsors
once a month with the regular meeting notice, which will
appear in all media as well as the larger org's mailing
list, and our own, once that's established. This has the
potential to establish us as the local experts in the field,
as well, since there is no other org of this kind here.

I've done this kind of thing before, but only on a volunteer
basis when I didn't have a business to promote. In pre-
Internet days, I held a discussion group at another
bookstore on alternative healthcare, and it was a resounding
success all around for five years. We had no shortage of
speakers (local businesspeople) or attendees at any time,
and it was all done with a minimum of time on my part, and
no cash outlay.

Trudy W. Schuett

cyberMan Editing Services

Thanks for the success story, Trudy.

If you have a particularly perplexing publicity problem, let
me know. When possible (space and circumstances
permitting), I'll poll subscribers for ideas and publish
them in future issues.

Send your questions to mailto:george@get-free-publicity.com

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Guest Articles

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Articles offered this week:

The 'net gives you an unprecedented opportunity to take your
business global. But don't forget--there may be a gold mine
in your own backyard. Sharon Fling has ideas that will help
you start scooping up the nuggets.

There are lots of fish in the sea, right? But don't forget,
many of them swim together in "schools." What does that
have to do with marketing? Ron Knowlton reminds us that no
matter how good your bait is, you'll fail if you drop your
line in the wrong part of the ocean.

Nobody can guarantee a winning ad. The only way to know for
sure is to test it. But David Frey says there are several
elements that you can incorporate into your ad or sales
letter to give it a better chance of being a winner. Use
these elements as your own personal "winning ad checklist."

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November 1, 2002
Editor: George McKenzie
Copyright 2002 by George McKenzie

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