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How to Recycle Successful Publicity Campaigns

by Marcia Yudkin 

In 1990, fax usage was spreading quickly through the business world, and my then-business partner and I got a lot of media coverage for what we called an "edit by fax" service. Five years later, I successfully repitched the service as "marketing upgrades," a low-cost alternative to the high cost of top-notch copywriters. A few years after that I reformulated the same service as "copywriting on call," with a rewrite as close and convenient as one's Internet connection. 

If you have a product or service that has caught the public eye in the past, you can often achieve that again with a creative rerun.

What works is not so much repeating the same angle or changing the date on a press release and resending it but revising the appeal, using one or more of the following fresheners. 

1. Tie in with news. Suppose you sell survival kits designed to help a family through a month or more of being without outside food, water and energy. One year you can pitch them as millennium blackout insurance, another year as a way to cope after a terrorist attack and another year, after a major earthquake, as an earthquake aftermath tool.

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2. Tie in with new technology. Let's say you're a psychologist who counsels regular clients at a distance. You could inspire fresh interest in your service by describing it in conjunction with either cell phones or voice-over-Internet telephony. With the former, you make it interesting and credible to explain how you achieve privacy and safety for therapy and with the latter, you can tout the benefit of 50-minute calls from anywhere in the world without international toll charges.

3. Tie in with a trend. Something besides technology that has become popular recently can serve as the hook for a new angle. For instance, more and more baby boomers are turning fifty. If you plan parties and events, the media would probably be interested in your "Fearless Fifty" parties.

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4. Tie in with a holiday. Get the timing right, and some special day that comes around every year can help you repitch your product or service. Years ago I had a fabulous round of success for a product called "The Procrastinator's Penpal." In November, I sent out another batch of press releases portraying the product in relation to completing holiday shopping, which achieved good uptake too.

5. Turn expectations upside down. Sometimes simply changing a business name to something surprising does the trick. In 1973 Dave Schwartz renamed his used car rental business "Rent a Wreck" and enjoyed a torrent of national coverage. Same business, catchier name, involving a turnaround of assumptions about what would be appealing in a rented car.

Theoretically you could repeat these maneuvers countless times, refurbishing an offering so that it met a different need, was delivered differently or wore different outerwear. Maybe you can even set a record for the most makeovers of one idea!

Copyright 2006 Marcia Yudkin.  All rights reserved.

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