More media 'hooks' to get your business noticed

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(MoneyWatch) Everybody tells you positive publicity is great for your business, but few people tell you how to get it. The cost of free publicity is great ideas.

In a previous post, I covered a dozen publicity "hooks"for attracting media attention to your products and services. Because a sequel needs to try harder to be as good as the original (think "Godfather II" and try to forget "Jaws 3-D"), here are 15 more hooks to promote your business:

The news event hook. Tie your company to a news event. For instance, Heritage Dairy Stores raised money to purchase calling cards for U.S. soldiers in Iraq so they could call home more often.

The insider advice hook. Research industry insider tips that you can pass along to consumers. The media welcome helpful advice and view it as a public service.

The Hall of Fame hook. Create a special award that honors outstanding people. Outside of their store, Road Runner Sports created the runner's "Run of Fame," with running shoe imprints in the sidewalk cement of some of the all-time great marathon and triathlon runners.

The contest hook. These are always a winning idea for publicity. The best publicized contests contain an element of humor, which the media can often use to add entertainment value to the news. A small bed-and-breakfast in New England received national coverage for its recipe contest to find the best chocolate chip cookies to serve guests.

The prediction hook. What will the world be like in five, 10, or 25 years? Dust off your crystal ball -- the media like a bold prediction from an expert.

The event hook. Create an event and spread the word. For example, QuikTrip convenience stores created four costumed mascots and took them on a store tour (who wouldn't want to meet a rooster, donkey, ram, and dog?).

The petition hook. Start a petition drive for a cause. You can even have an online service handle the petition for you, with sites such as PetitionOnline.com allowing anyone to start one for free.

The myths hook. Perception vs. reality is always a popular media topic. What myths could you bust? The media welcomes the chance to debunk urban legends and old wives tales.

The recipe hook. The food section is in search of a new recipe or two. Combining this with the seasonal hook works, good recipes for Super Bowl Sunday or no-cook ideas for those dog days of summer.

The history hook. What happened on this date 10, 25, or 50 years ago? More important, how does it tie into what you are doing today?

The list hook. Lists of the best, worst, most, longest, highest, top, and other superlatives are a media staple. Mr. Blackwell became famous with his annual list of the worst-dressed celebrities. Another example is PETCO pet stores, which created its list of top ten holiday gifts for pets. What list do you have the authority to issue?

The quiz hook. Let people test their smarts. You can make it true or false, multiple choice, or fill in the blanks. (Don't forget the answer key.)

The op-ed hook. Writing a commentary is a sure way to get into print. If you are not ready for an essay on the opinion and editorial pages, consider writing a letter to the editor.

The index hook. Create your own index. Moet Champagne created a list of some luxury items, including lobster, caviar, diamond bracelets, and -- of course -- a bottle of Moet. The total cost of the goods was compared with the amount they would have cost last year, and the Moet Index was born.

The checklist hook. Oops, you know about this one. You are reading it.

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