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With this in mind, ask customers where they first heard about you. If you hear a lot of responses such as, "I read your column in the newspaper and really liked it," or "I saw your interview on the news about getting a good rate on home loans and thought you could help me," then your public relations plan is succeeding.
What's your 'hook'?
Newcomers to public relations must understand that the media do not exist to give you free advertising or free publicity. The media have two purposes: to inform the public and to make money.
Some mortgage originators new to public relations think they can throw together a press release on how great their business is and see it printed in several newspapers and magazines. In almost all cases, however, it will not be printed if it doesn't have a news "hook" or is not well-written.
Most mortgage originators rely on the local market for most of their business. Thus, you also could focus on local media. Although the town newspaper, neighborhood-association newsletter and the local news station might not be as glamorous as a national morning talk show, they can be more effective. Concentrating on local media that you know potential customers read and listen to can produce great results.
Finally, an effective tactic is to write a column or article on issues facing the industry. Many mortgage originators who do so get a huge amount of business from their articles. They don't take long to write, and if you don't have the time or talent, you can hire a ghostwriter or ask someone on your staff to write for you.
With your column or article, publications often print your photo and a short biography in which you can include a plug for your business, including your Web site and phone number. Even if only a few hundred people read your article, those who are considering refinancing or buying a new home just might contact you.
Keep in mind that public relations builds trust. Most people like to buy from people they know, and positive public relations can build instant rapport. If you work on improving your business and getting your name out there, more business is sure to follow.
Bryan Thompson is the founder of Press Release Writing Online. As a freelance publicist, writer and entrepreneur, he has worked with dozens of companies of varying sizes. Thompson is writing a book on the basics of publicity for small businesses and is concurrently managing several other online businesses. Contact him at email@example.com. Visit the company's Web site, www.prwritingonline.com.
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