The Great Internet Publicist Experiment:
Winter follows summer. Summer follows spring. And so, as Rafiki the wise
baboon once spoke, goes the Circle of Life. On internet discussion lists,
no cycle of topics is complete without the resurrection of that Eternal
Are publicists really worth the money they charge to publicize your web
If you go by the number of advertising agencies, design houses and public
relations firms, you'd swear that internet publicity has got to be a phenomenal
growth business. Almost everyone, everywhere is hawking their ability to
get your site listed, noticed, clicked and profitable when you sign on their
Of course, just because people have something to sell doesn't mean what
they're selling is worth it. Which is why I decided to jump in the driver's
seat last year and test-drive a publicist myself. We wanted to raise Frankel
& Anderson's profile with both online and nonline people. But believing
that a specialist with special connections and valued relationships could
do much better than we could (who were not publicists, but marketers), we
Now, before we get too far into this, let me explain that publicists
generally fall into two categories: solo practitioners who work in their
underwear in front of personal computers and big firms with nattily-dressed
manikins who work in front of floor-to-ceiling windows. If you go with the
former, you can expect to pay at least $1500 a month. With the latter, it
starts at about five long ones -- minimum.
Wanna guess which one we tried?
Okay, so we signed with El Cheapo, but for us, it was the only way to
go. After all, you can't hire a publicist for just a week or two. If you're
serious about getting yourself or your site in front of people, you've got
to commit at least six months to the effort, because that's how long it
takes. A month for the publicist to learn your business. A month for smiling
and dialing their favorite editors. A month to get the piece written. A
month for the bribes to be properly placed. A month for production lead
time. You get the idea.
We weren't prepared to cough up thirty grand, so we opted for the more
affordable lone eagle.
The publicity person was great. Intelligent. Experienced. Incredibly
diligent. Unfortunately, everything else was a complete disaster: It lasted
ten months, produced one speaking engagement and no clients. The speaking
engagement, incidentally, was NOT to a group of prospective agency clients,
but a tribe of well-meaning folks "in search of their inner child".
After that, I decided to stop paying someone to be involved for Frankel
& Anderson and started devoting more of my time to promoting myself
as its figurehead. I cranked up my contribution to online lists. Began writing
and publishing articles like this one. Those articles led to a co-hosting
spot on a nationally syndicated radio show and the discussion of a book
deal. It also landed three very nice accounts for us through our web site.
Total cost: my time.
My own feeling is that most net business people can't really afford the
fees that a good publicity campaign costs. And finding someone who really
understands what you do and how you do it is rare. Which leaves you with
the question often queried by clients: why NOT do your own publicity?
The answer is that if there's any part of the marketing equation that
you might want to tackle, publicity is probably the one you'd want to try
first. Don't expect to get great press from the major publications, but
do expect to get decent results from the people with whom you should be
targeting most: your fellow netheads.
The fact is that NO publicity agent is going to participate in newsgroups
or discussion lists for you. Nor should they. After all, YOU'RE the expert.
The stuff that shows off your smarts doesn't require the preparation of
press releases and three martini lunches. All you really have to do is show
up and join the conversation. Who's better qualified for that than you?
And that's the great thing about the net: no flash, just content. No
shiny suits or air-brushed models; just better stuff from smarter people.
Of course, newsgroups and discussion lists don't get Dan Rather on the
phone. But they DO get you noticed by the people you want to do business
with -- and there are far more of them than you might think. Don't forget
that the average discussion list is actively used by only 10% of its subscribers.
The other 90% are reading their posts silently, some making notes at their
desks in Fortune 500 companies. You'd be amazed at how many notes I get
from list members who never wrote a single post to the list.
Which is a VERY broad hint for an announcement I expect to make to
you, right here on Clickz, very soon.
If you really need them, if you can afford them, great publicists are
out there. They'll get you great press and fantastic results. And next week,
I'm going to tell you about one.
In addition to co-hosting the nationally-syndicated radio show LOG ON
USA, Rob Frankel is a regular contributor to Ziff Davis' Internet Business,
a speaker, consultant and president of Frankel & Anderson, America's
first award-winning, 100% digital advertising and marketing agency, providing
Advertising, Marketing & Killer Creative to clients throughout the world.
You can reach Rob directly at http://www.RobFrankel.com or toll-free (throughout North America) at 1-888-ROBFRANKEL, and see/hear
samples of Killer Creative at http://www.frankel-anderson.com
Copyright 1998, FRANKEL &
ANDERSON * Advertising, Marketing & Killer Creative * http://www.RobFrankel.com * Toll-Free in USA & Canada: 1-888-ROBFRANKEL * Telephone: 818-990-8623
* FAX: 413-778-0909 * http://www.frankel-anderson.com