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In The News

Good News Travels Fast

by Keith Thirgood

This newsletter is full of opportunities staring you in the face. If you don't believe me, write and tell me so--and by doing that you'd be proving me right.

That would make you a proactive marketer: spotting a marketing opportunity in an everyday activity.

For instance: Something most of us do every day is read the paper, and though they may not seem like business issues at first glance, editorials or news items offer one of those marketing opportunities. How does that merger, government legislation, tax increase, tornado--or whatever--affect your business, your industry, your clients? Take a position on the subject, and write a letter to the editor to tell them. Include your company name in the body of the letter. Readers often give more credence to opinions of business leaders, and it gets your name out there.

Act immediately. After reading the paper, set aside some time to respond. Then go over your response carefully. (It's easy to fire off a letter, but you might regret sending something not fully thought out.)

Your letters may not be used every time, but when one is, it goes a long way to building your image as an expert.

Another marketing opportunity arises when you see an article that might be of interest to one of your clients. Clip and send it to them with a note. Even if they've already seen it, your client will appreciate the gesture. It shows you take them and their business seriously.

That was easy. Now, what about all those items that don't directly relate to you or your existing clients? Some may mean more to you than you think.

Electronic or print, the news media are chock full of marketing information. As you read, watch or listen, be prepared to capture vital information. Pen and paper by your side can't hurt. Every day, companies you should be prospecting appear in the news. Jot down the spokesperson's name and title; if you're lucky the report may even provide a number to call. Companies like putting their people in front of the media (because they can say all the positive things about themselves the media won't). Pick out the companies you are interested in marketing to, and call them.

The news item doesn't have to be a positive story; the negative ones may hold more opportunity. However, don't assume a company facing tough decisions automatically wants you. They may react quite nastily to that assumption.

The person in the news story may not be the right one to discuss your ideas with, but they are an in, so contact them first. When you call, mention where you saw or heard them, make some positive comment on the coverage, then quickly move on to the reason for your call. They will appreciate knowing how their PR is working, and will, no doubt, feel that you're not wasting their time with insubstantial chit chat.

From this point, the call becomes like any other exploratory sales call.

You can't afford to sit on these opportunities. News has a short shelf life. Because of the number of news items we are bombarded with, you should only focus on a couple at a time. Don't worry if you miss some, we are fed a constant stream of potentially useful information, so you'll never run out of targets.

It's hard enough to keep on top of daily events pertinent to your field. It's harder still, when using them for their marketing potential, to stay up to date, and to act quickly. But it's vital, because with marketing, timing is everything.

Opportunities lie on every page and in every broadcast. Your success in using them for marketing depends on their relevancy to your field, and on your ability to act quickly.

Use the news to turn yourself into a proactive marketer.

Keith Thirgood is Creative Director of Capstone Communications, a marketing and design firm. He's also publishes this newsletter and is the president of the Association of Independent Consultants. He can be reached at (905) 472-2330 or e-mail him at .
Check out Capstone's website at

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