How to Get Publicity for Your Practice
Rogers, Stuart C., The National Public Accountant
You have read, perhaps, in National Public Accountant, that one of the most effective marketing tools an accounting practice can use is magazine, newspaper or broadcast publicity. The following illustrates a step-by-step method to plan, create and place news items and short articles that are likely to get your practice name and expertise noticed by those whom you most want as clients.
A Basic Publicity Program
To get your publicity program off to a good start, prepare several basic information pieces to be sent to editors of periodicals and to news directors of radio and television stations in your marketing area, packaged in a form sometimes called a press kit or media kit.
These are the essential elements you should include: background on your practice; overview of your most important current activities; biographical profiles of you and your associates; 5-by-7 inch black-and-white headshots (head and shoulders photographs) of senior people in the firm, with captions indicating names and specialties; summary of accomplishments to date; crisp, top-quality 8-by-10 inch black-and-white glossy photo of something connected with your practice, like a picture of you working with a client, an interior view of your office, special equipment you use or the exterior of your office building; cover letter to editors and news directors (by name) detailing enclosures, asking that the packet be kept on file, offering access to you or your spokesperson for more complete information and opinions on accounting matters and "exclusives" (releases or articles offered only to that one particular editor.
Your material should be presented in a form that reflects the highest professional, journalistic and production quality standards you can achieve to encourage retention, reference and active use.
Through your media kit, editors and news directors will have a chance to learn what your credits are, what your services are and what your practice can mean to their readers, listeners or viewers.
In the same way, they will be encouraged to develop their own stories about you and your plans, to call you for expert opinion quotes on accounting and financial news items and to watch for newsworthy releases that you send them at regular intervals.
Many professional people with whom I have worked over the years have observed that when publicity is the major communications method in a marketing program, practitioners avoid the stigma of puffery or self aggrandizement, since they are simply providing accurate, factual information in the public interest.
The Next Step
The secret of success in a publicity program is to first build a list of media vehicles (individual newspapers, magazines, newsletters, radio stations and television broadcasters) that reach the particular people you want as clients. Don't waste your time and money on media that do not appeal to your best prospects - a common mistake of professional services marketers.
Then be sure to get the individual name (including the exact spelling) and specific title of the editor, news director or other person at each facility who is responsible for news and editorial material. Check regularly by telephone to be sure that person is still there, in that capacity. People move around a lot in the media business, so check your entire list of names at least every two months to keep it up to date. Material sent to the wrong person or to a person using an incorrect spelling or an inferior title, is likely to get tossed out unread.
Your list may be local, regional, national or even international depending on the nature of your accounting practice. But don't overreach and send out more material than you need to. That, quite simply, is a waste of time and money, too. For example, if the marketing area for your practice is western Montana, don't send releases to TIME magazine or to the Associated Press; they probably have bigger stories to cover than yours. …