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Ta b l e o f Co n te n t s YOUR KEYS TO THE MEDIA KINGDOM. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 MARKETING PLANS.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4

Sa m p l e M a r k e t i n g P l a n 1 – T h o u g h t Le a d e r s h i p .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Sa m p l e M a r k e t i n g P l a n 2 – Le a d G e n e ra t i o n .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9

CHARACTERISTICS OF DIFFERENT MEDIA.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Newspapers.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Trade Magazine. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Television.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 Radio. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Billboards.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Transit Media.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Web Site.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22

BUILDING A MEDIA RESOURCE GUIDE.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 Obtaining Media Contacts.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27

PREPARING INFORMATION FOR THE MEDIA.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 DELIVERING YOUR STORY.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 Press Releases.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 SAMPLE PRE S S RELEA S E 1 – P ro d u c t o r S e r v i ce . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 8 SAMPLE PRE S S RELEA S E 2 – P e r s o n n e l A n n o u n ce m e n t . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 0 SAMPLE PRE S S RELEA S E 3 – Te c h n o l o g y Ce r t i f i c a t i o n . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 2

Suggested Press Release Topics.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44 P H OTO RELEA S E F O RM . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 4

Bylined Stories.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 Submitting Your Bylined Stories.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 SAMPLE BY LINE ARTI C LE 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 8 SAMPLE BY LINE ARTI C LE 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 0

Bylined Article Topics.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52 Pitch Letters.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53 SAMPLE PITC H LETTER 1 .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 4 SAMPLE PITC H LETTER 2 .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 5

Pitch Letter Announcements For A Press Release.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56 Media Alerts.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56 SAMPLE ME D IA ALERT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57

Securing Case Studies/Customer Testimonials.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58 SAMPLE C A S E ST U DY RE Q U E ST LETTER .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 2

The Media Interview.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Before The Interview.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Interview Itself.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Corporate Responsibility/Community Service.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Using The “Ask The Expert” Advertorials.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . How To Place Your Advertorial.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

63 64 66 67 68 69

SAMPLE A S K T H E E X PERT A DV ERTO RIAL CO PY .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70

“Ask The Computer Experts” Topics.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71

USING THE CompTIA MARKETING TOOL KIT BROCHURE.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72 How To Produce Your Brochure. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74 SAMPLE PRINTING S PE C S H EET .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76

USING AN AD SLICK. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78

SAMPLE A D S LI C K CO PY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 0

BUILDING YOUR WEB SITE.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82 Tips For Creating A Killer Web Site.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . If You Build And Promote It, They Will Come.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Become An Instant Online Expert By Blogging.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Let Your Voice Be Heard With Podcasts.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

84 86 88 90


yo u r keys to t h e k i n g d o m

Your Keys to the Kingdom Much has changed in the world since CompTIA developed its first Marketing Toolkit. But one thing hasn’t; the need for members to market themselves effectively in order to compete. In fact, if anything the need has grown. Competition is fierce, as delineations between the types of organizations members will target becoming increasingly blurred. Certainly no one in our industry needs to be told that today every dollar is intensely scrutinized before being spent. All of this points to the pressing need for members to have their stories told – and to make sure those stories stand out from the competition when they do appear. The CompTIA Marketing Tool Kit is designed to help you accomplish these dual goals. It contains the information you need to craft communications and secure placements with the traditional media, while also showing how so-called “new media” techniques can help establish you as an expert in your field. The enclosed guideline explains the policies and needs of the media, updated to reflect the reality of the 24 x 7 machine the media has become. It also offers suggestions on how to approach the media to get your message placed, how to do an effective interview, and how to analyze a media outlet’s audience to determine whether it is appropriate for your business. Written samples of easily personalized news releases, pitch letters, and newsletter articles are also enclosed. We also encourage you to review articles posted on the CompTIA Web site as additional examples of successful media placements. An expanded “Characteristics of the Media” section offers helpful tips on selecting the right media (or combination of media) for your message. You’ll also find tips on developing a communications budget. The CompTIA Marketing Toolkit is filled with information and templates to help you build the perfect strategy and tactics for promoting your business. With easy navigation and sample letters, press releases, marketing plans and much more, you are on your way to launching your business to a new level. Congratulations! Regards,

Todd Thibodeaux CompTIA President and CEO A DVA N C I N G T H E G LO B A L I T I N D U ST RY


Marketing Plans Just as an Army wouldn’t

While marketing plan specifics

think about going into battle

can vary greatly, the following

without a battle plan, before

outline provides a good format

you begin using the tools in

to use in building one for your

this toolkit you really need

business. When filling in the

to have a solid marketing

sections it is important to be

plan. Doing so will help you

as honest and objective as

determine where you’re

you can – particularly when

headed, what the risks are,

looking at opportunities and

how you should proceed,

the competitive situation.

where you should make

Situation overview

a general

look at the business landscape that includes:

a. Current market conditions (strong/weak economy, key products/services you offer, how you are perceived by customers and prospects, any recent issues or concerns that have appeared, etc.).

b. Competitive analysis (be sure to include companies that may not be a direct competitor but can encroach on your business).

c. SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis.

changes, and ultimately whether the money you’ve

objectives for the program ideally these should be statements

spent has generated the

whose outcomes can be measured, e.g.

results you were looking for

increase sales leads by 15 percent or

when you started the program.

generate four byline article placements in the next year.

m a r ke t i n g p l a n s


this is more of a big picture view of how you plan to

approach your objectives. Often strategies and tactics are confused. Saying you will use an expert campaign to help demonstrate your firm’s knowledge in a particular area is a strategy. Saying you will write a byline article on storage is a tactic. Your strategy should include: Tactical plan

specific tactics/tools you will use to execute the

strategy. For example, if your strategy is to establish an expert campaign, tactics might include writing byline articles, speaking at local events, creating an “ask the expert” column in the local newspaper, and creating customer case studies. If you are trying to raise general visibility, you might include direct mail, advertising, e-mail banners, and press releases in your program. success measures

making a plan is not enough. You need to know

how you will know if the strategy and tactics worked. In some cases, success measures will be tied into the strategy metrics you listed initially. In others, they will be tied to creating a more specific measurement, such as “issue 15 press releases” or “receive a combined total of 100 leads.” budget

you should start with how much you’re willing to spend on

marketing overall, then assign the dollars to each activity. If you have more activities than you have budget, you will either need to increase the expenditure or decide which activities to trim. As a rule of thumb, expect to spend between 3 and 10 percent of sales on marketing.



Sample Marketing Plan 1 – Thought Leadership

Storage has become a serious issue in the IT market. Where previously companies viewed it as a commodity that was easily added and managed, the sheer volume of data has forced a change in strategy. Both large enterprises and SMEs are looking to approach basic storage more intelligently and improve their data backup and business continuity plans. In the [CITY] area, there are more than X,XXX businesses that can be classified as

Situation overview

large enterprise or SME. These businesses are either now facing a storage crisis or likely will be facing one within the next year. They will be looking for a partner that can provide a strategic plan for managing their current storage needs that also accommodates exponential future growth, and one that can help them keep their systems operational in the event of an unplanned outage. The first place many of these organizations will look is to the large players, such as [NAMES]. They are purchasing other equipment and services from them, so there is already a relationship established. In order to break through this mindset, [YOUR COMPANY] needs to make these prospects aware of our offering, and demonstrate a level of knowledge and service that makes them re-think their decision. We also have to convince them that their safest investment is in a smaller local firm rather than one of the mega-service companies. Following is a SWOT analysis of our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, along with those of [NUMBER] key competitors: Company





Although each of these competitors is larger overall, [YOUR COMPANY]’s local presence is superior. In addition, we offer a broader line of products, giving prospects more choices to tailor the solution to their needs rather than pushing . a “one size fits all” solution. Another strategic asset is the presence of [NAME] on our staff. His work with [GOVERNMENT OR OTHER ORGANIZATION] has helped set many of the standards for storage, allowing [YOUR COMPANY] to provide in-person counsel that may not be available on a regular basis from the competition.

m a r ke t i n g p l a n s | s a m p l e m a r ke t i n g p l a n 1

It is our intention to leverage these and other assets in order to demonstrate to prospects why [YOUR COMPANY] is the safest choice for their data. The following marketing plan details how we will do it. objectives

• Create three touchpoints each month with customers and prospects • Increase Web traffic by 20 percent • Increase sales by a minimum of 10 percent in the first two quarters (over the previous year) strategies

• Develop an expert campaign featuring [NAME] as an expert in storage • Pulse the market with monthly press releases on storage topics • Develop a bank of e-mails on storage-related topics that can be sent directly to customers and prospects

• Support above initiatives with advertising in storage-related services in local publications that reach business and IT decision-makers

• Meet customers and prospects face-to-face at events tactics

• Research £  Create a list of the top 20 vertical industries in our coverage area £  Create or purchase an e-mail mailing list Review the top IT and storage publications to see which topics are being written about regularly £  £  Research editorial calendars (if available) £  Develop list of targeted local media for contributed articles and advertising £  Look at event calendars and organizations to find speaking opportunities £  Check out venues where we might hold our own event £  Review competitor messaging to see how they are attacking the market

• Messaging £  Develop three key messages we want to use to reach out to decision-makers, e.g. [YOUR COMPANY] sells more brands of storage products than all our competitors combined £  Create a messaging guide to be sure at least one key message appears in every ad, press release, and piece of collateral



• Research Introduce [NAME] to local media reporters as an expert who can help with storage £  related stories ô  Send e-mail introduction ô  Follow up by phone, try to set up face-to-face meetings £  Contact editors that accept outside contributions, offer expert article ô  Create article abstract ô  Send abstract and pitch via e-mail ô  Follow up by phone £  Create and submit speaker abstracts for local events £  Develop press releases to announce news

• Direct Marketing £  Develop e-mail campaign around storage concepts/themes ô  Create list of themes ô  Develop three simple HTML e-mails to carry the theme ô  Send to mailing list £  Repeat four times (once per quarter)

• Advertising £  Create artwork for two print ads ô  One [SIZE] for newspaper ô  One [SIZE/COLORS] for magazines

• Place ads Newspaper: Every Saturday from March – May, September – November in ô  business section ô  Magazine: March, April, September, October £  Create TV spot for cable TV business show [NAME] £  Run spot in three-week flights twice to test £  Create and run banner ads in business/technology section of local newspaper Web site

• Misc. Online £  Develop blog for [EXPERT] ô  Commit to updating a minimum of twice a week ô  Add second author if necessary after two months ô  Have blogger contribute to other blogs to drive traffic ô  Announce blog to local community as part of e-mail campaign and via press release

• Budget

m a r ke t i n g p l a n s | s a m p l e m a r ke t i n g p l a n 2

Sample Marketing Plan 2 – Lead Generation

The local market for IT services has grown exponentially in the past few years. The opening of the technology corridor, along with the area expansion of other technology intensive enterprises such as [NAMES] has given the [AREA] area much more market potential than it has enjoyed in the past. An analysis by [YOUR COMPANY] personnel estimates the number of potential customers within a 50-mile radius at X,XXX and growing. The needs of these

Situation overview

prospects vary, from off-hour IT support to help with specialty projects to training on applications to fully managed IT services. As such, it presents a target-rich environment for [YOUR COMPANY]. With so much new development in the area, it is likely that many of these prospects will be looking for new, local suppliers of IT products and services. Given the typical patterns, once they have entered an agreement it will be a minimum of one to three years before the incumbent can be dislodged (assuming there are no major problems in the interim). As such, it is important that [YOUR COMPANY] generate as many opportunities to state our case and demonstrate our capabilities now, before decisions are made. The number of competitors likely to go after this business are few, but the competition itself is expected to be fierce. Following is a SWOT analysis of our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, along with those of [NUMBER] key competitors: Company





We must keep in mind, however, that from the outside we and our competitors will appear quite similar. Therefore, it is important that we both build brand recognition and differentiate ourselves as much and as often as possible by creating a brand position and then hammering it home with a sledgehammer. The following marketing plan describes how [YOUR COMPANY] can create a strong presence in the marketplace while using marketing dollar judiciously to help drive sales leads and capture a larger share of the market than can be expected via word-of-mouth or other means.




• Increase the number of inbound qualified leads by XX percent • Increase the number of sales calls made by sales staff by XX percent • Close one out of X qualified lead opportunities strategies

• Use a mixed media approach to build name brand recognition • Focus marketing efforts around X six-week periods throughout the year • Use an offer of some sort to stimulate responses tactics

• Research £  Create or purchase a list of local companies with a minimum of 100 employees; include key contact information £  Gather advertising rates for local print and broadcast media £  Check if media runs technology-specific content on specific days £  Review competitor messaging to see how they are attacking the market

• Messaging Develop three key messages we want to use to reach out to decision makers, e.g. £  [YOUR COMPANY] offers full-service technology consulting and installation services, or [YOUR COMPANY]’s list of local customers includes X, Y and Z £  Create a messaging guide to be sure at least one key message appears in every ad, press release, and piece of collateral

• Advertising £  Create artwork for a series of print ads ô [NUMBER, SIZE] for newspaper ô Two [SIZE/COLORS] for magazines £  Place ads ô  Newspaper: In technology or business section each [DAYS] for X six week periods beginning mid-January ô Magazine: March, April, September, October £  Create radio ads for business show [NAME] £  Run spot in three week flights twice to test £  Create and run banner ads in business/technology section of local newspaper Web site

m a r ke t i n g p l a n s | s a m p l e m a r ke t i n g p l a n 2

• Direct Marketing £  Develop e-mail campaign around various services ô Create list of themes ô Develop three simple HTML e-mails to carry the theme ô Send to mailing list £  Repeat four times (once per quarter)

• Public Relations £  Introduce [NAME] to local media reporters as an expert who can help with technologyrelated stories ô Send e-mail introduction ô Follow up by phone, try to set up face-to-face meetings £  Create and submit speaker abstracts for local events £  Develop press releases to announce news

• Misc. Online £  Develop blog for [EXPERT] ô Commit to updating a minimum of twice a week ô Add second author if necessary after two months ô Have blogger contribute to other blogs to drive traffic ô Announce blog to local community as part of e-mail campaign and via press release

• Budget



Characteristics Of Different Media The various types of media


Advantages Broad acceptance by consumers.

have different needs, and reach

Newspapers are still a

different types of audiences.

common feature of daily life

many consumers turn to them first when

The following guide spells out

in many households. This

looking for information on products to

these differences to help you

wide acceptance holds several

only advertising and public relations

choose the outlets that are

advantages for members who

vehicles delivered each day to the

right for your message and

use newspapers.

your communications goals.

Newspapers are so prevalent that .

buy. Newspapers are still one of the .

consumer’s doorstep. High readership rates in large population areas. Newspaper readership increases with population density. This feature means that newspapers can be a very effective way to target large groups of potential customers at an economical price. One basic ad or article can reach a great many people. High readership rates among college graduates. The decision-makers at customers and prospects have a high probability of being college graduates. Newspapers are a good way to communicate with this group. Readership rates increase as personal income increases. Simply put, the more money someone makes, the more likely they are to read a newspaper. This is true whether or not the reader is a college graduate.

c h a ra c te r i st i c s o f d i f fe re n t m e d i a

Short closing times for submissions (pertains to advertising only). This means that advertising copy can be submitted on very short notice – in many cases 24 hours (although different papers have different policies). Nonetheless, members have great flexibility in designing their messages. Messages can be tailored to coincide with specific days of the week if those days represent a particular shopping cycle in your market. Geographic Targeting. Newspapers “dial in” on their readership by covering local issues. Members automatically know the geographical dispersion of their message simply by knowing what cities or towns the newspaper covers. Also, special suburban editions of city newspapers are on the rise, giving members a better chance of reaching a specific target audience. Archives. Many newspapers archive their stories so that when people run searches via the internet, key words can pull up a story. Therefore, the audience you could be reaching increases dramatically. Inherent Advantages of Print. Reading is a personally involving process and consumers tend to remember more of what they read than what they only hear. Plus, the printed word still enjoys a greater sense of credibility among many people. Portability. Newspapers are inexpensive and lightweight. They don’t take up much space. They can be purchased at a variety of outlets. People can and do read newspapers almost anywhere.



Disadvantages Short Life. No one saves newspapers for long. This means that your message will probably been seen only once, unless it is run in successive issues. Most other media share this disadvantage. Poor “Pass-Along.” Your newspaper message will probably speak to one person (or household) only. Few newspapers are shared with other people. Plus, newspapers are almost never read twice by the same person. Reproduction Quality. Although many advances have been made in newspaper printing, some graphic limitations still exist. Very fine, detailed reproduction is not usually possible. These limitations are most important for graphic messages than text messages. Messaging Strategy Advertising. Keep ads clean and easy to read. You are fighting for attention with ads from the local car dealers, stock advisory services, department stores, and many other businesses. Be sure the headline helps the audience identify that the ad is for them. Don’t try to say everything in the ad; give just enough to entice readers to want to know more. Public relations. If you are speaking to the newspaper as part of an article they are preparing, be prepared to answer questions simply and succinctly. Don’t get too technical or you will lose the readers. Also be prepared to “bridge” from the question to your message. With this technique you answer the question first, then bridge to how your company has solved similar problems using its expertise. If you are proposing a new article about your company (or some aspect of it), again keep in mind that the newspaper has a general audience readership. Ask yourself whether your grandmother would be interested in the story if she didn’t know it was about you. If so, you have the type of story that should interest the newspaper. If not, see if you can bring it down to a more universal level. You can also submit press releases to the newspaper. Many newspapers have an editor who handles actual news, and other staffers to handle announcements such as events and personnel additions.

c h a ra c te r i st i c s o f d i f fe re n t m e d i a | t ra d e m a g a z i n e s


Advantages Broad acceptance by consumers. Newspapers are so prevalent that many consumers turn to them first when looking for information on products to buy. Newspapers are still one of the only advertising and public relations vehicles delivered each day to the consumer’s doorstep.: High Selectivity. Magazines do a good job of targeting an audience along specific horizontal (job-oriented) or vertical (industry-oriented) lines. There is a magazine for every market niche or industry, no matter how small or esoteric. Committed and Receptive Audience. Magazine readers want to be reading that particular publication. Their steady reading habits demonstrate their commitment to the magazine subject matter. Magazine readers tend to pay more attention to messages in the magazine, especially if the publication is highly targeted. Greater Depth. Magazines can delve more deeply into a particular topic than general interest newspapers. Technical and trade journals can go very deep into the technologies. Long Life and Portability. Like newspapers, magazines are easy to carry and can be read nearly anywhere. Unlike newspapers, magazines are made from a higher quality paper and last longer. This paper also has better color reproduction for photographs and graphic elements. Magazines are also “passed along,” and . offer the benefit of delivering your message repeatedly to more than one person or household. Disadvantages Unobtrusive. Magazine messages are passive. They also tend to be published at longer intervals (monthly, bi-weekly) and thus have less of a sense of urgency. As a result, readers may not see your message when you want them to see it. . A magazine can get lost or ignored since it makes little demand that the reader pick it up until the reader is ready. Fragmentation. Magazine markets may be too fragmented to be an economical advertising vehicle. The audience may be too specialized or too general. Too many uninterested people may be hearing your message in a more general interest magazine, while too few may hear it if the magazine market is too narrow. Measure it by cost per targeted thousand –divide the number of targeted readers by 1,000, and then divide that number into the cost of the ad. You will then have a good measure of its actual cost to you. A DVA N C I N G T H E G LO B A L I T I N D U ST RY


Messaging Strategy Advertising. Because you have a more involved (and presumably more targeted) audience, magazine ads can be built differently than newspaper ads. You can include more copy if required to tell the story, and get into more specific information than you can with a newspaper. If possible, you will want to use color to help draw attention to your ad. If the copy is longer than a few sentences, use subheads to break it up; try to make sure the headline and subheads tell the story, even if the reader doesn’t get beyond them. Public relations. Pitch your expertise to help with stories the publication is creating; many magazines have editorial calendars that tell you when a story on a particular topic will run. Contact the editor or appropriate reporter at least two months before the story is scheduled to run. (Some publications have even longer lead times, so be sure you know the appropriate time to contact them.) Many magazines also accept contributed articles, so check the Web site to see if you can suggest an article you will write for them. Generally, you are not allowed to mention your company within the article – it has to be what they call “vendor neutral” – but you can include a mention and your contact information in the “About the author” section at the end. Finally, magazines (and their Web sites) are great targets for news releases. Many are constantly posting news on their sites, and welcome contributions from businesses in their area of coverage.

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Television is usually thought of as an effective but very expensive way to reach mass audiences. And on the national level, that’s true. But there are two other options that are both more local and economical: “Spot” commercials on local broadcast or cable TV outlets. For broadcast, spot time is purchased directly from the local station. Typically, the spot runs during a specific range of hours during the day (referred to in the industry as a “daypart”), and the member buys whatever time spot (or slot) meets the objectives of the communications plan. . To lower costs even further, you can also choose ROS (run of station), which means your spot appears whenever they have a place available. Cable TV spots can be even more economical and targeted. The cable company will generally divide its coverage area into zones; you can purchase spots in one or more zones during various day parts. You can also select the channel on which you would like the spot to appear, e.g. ESPN, Comedy Central, SpikeTV, GolfTV, etc. Costs will vary by popularity of the channel/program, but even in major metropolitan area you can find opportunities for less than $10 per spot. ROS is also an option here. In addition, local cable TV spots do not require high production values; a good digital video camera and computer-based editing software can be used to create the content. Advantages Sight with Sound. This is an advantage of all televised messages. Combining sight with sound gets maximum audience participation through increased stimulation. Messages often have great staying power because they may increase the emotional involvement of the viewer. Precision targeting. Slotting your message into a good time spot or a favorable channel/program increases the chance your message will be seen by the right people. Zone purchasing with cable allows you to restrict the geographic area (and cost) even further if required. The viewer is a “captive audience” which increases your likelihood of exposure. Local Access. This is especially true of locally produced, “public interest” programming often found on cable television. You and your firm are an item . of local interest.



Disadvantages Difficult to Purchase. Spot time may be difficult to purchase. The most desirable time slots could be hard to obtain since those will go first. Even identifying the best slot for your message can be difficult without good information, such as the audience demographics at various times. Rates may vary for no apparent reason, making comparisons between stations difficult. In a smaller market, there may be only one relevant outlet, which limits your choice. Cost. Television messages require production values. The degree of production can be expensive depending upon the type of message you need to send. Standard broadcast stations generally require spots that have been produced on commerciallevel equipment, which means you will need to hire a production company. Cable TV can accept less expensive production methods, but the spots still must appear professional. You may still need to hire a writer, director, and other assistance. Poor production values will project a negative image of you and your firm. Uncertain Viewership. Viewers may get up and leave during programming breaks, or start channel surfing, at exactly the time your message is aired. If your interview is airing on a local cable channel, potential customers may not know of the broadcast. This last point is a good example of why you need to mix your media outlets. A welltimed press release or e-mail announcement could help solve this problem. Clutter. A great deal of message competition exists. Although this is true of all media, television messages are very susceptible to being ignored by viewers since they are usually presented in blocks. Your message, even if aired at the right time and seen by the right audience, can still fail to make an impact because of message clutter and competition. Messaging Strategy Advertising. Select one message and make sure it comes across clearly throughout the spot. TV watchers are passive, and have notoriously short attention spans. If you’re attempting to generate responses, be sure you have phone and Web site information displayed prominently, both visually and audibly. Keep in mind that television is a visual medium, so take great care to make your spot visually appealing.

c h a ra c te r i st i c s o f d i f fe re n t m e d i a | ra d i o

Public Relations. Generally speaking there are not a lot of PR opportunities in local television. The larger the market, the fewer there are likely to be. If you have an important event, such as a state or Federal-level politician coming to your facility to make a presentation, you can notify the local news channels. Don’t be surprised, however, if the story is mostly about the politician. You can try offering your expertise to put a local spin on a major event. For example, if you have expertise in security and there is a major virus outbreak, you can offer to comment on the topic, or how your firm has been reacting to it. If there is a program spotlighting local businesses, definitely target it with a story that ties in to either local or national trends. If you are accepted as a guest, again keep your message simple and straightforward.


Advantages Ubiquity. Radio is everywhere. Practically every car has one; most homes have several. Radio is extremely portable, and can be left on in the background during other activities. Most markets, no matter how small, are often served by at least

Radio has many of the same

two radio stations.

advantages as newspapers

Cost. Radio messages are economical to create since they use only sound. Or,

on the advertising side. Public

you can choose to have a program host do a live read, which has no production

relations opportunities are

also tend to be very economical compared to other broadcast media. Pricing is

much more limited.

based on the length of the spot (10 seconds, 30 seconds, and 60 seconds are

costs (although you have no control over the read either). Time slots for radio

the norm). It is also based on dayparts, i.e. drive time, mid-days, etc. ROS (run of station) spots (where your commercial is used to fill any available slot) are also available, further driving down costs. Speed. Radio messages can in most cases be accepted by the broadcaster right up until air time. This allows you maximum flexibility in creating, tailoring, and changing the message as needed. Loyalty. Many people tend to latch on to a particular program or station and stay with it. Targeting. Radio formats are designed to cater to consumers along relatively narrow demographic or other segmenting criteria. You have a good idea who will be hearing your message before it is aired.



Disadvantages Radio’s disadvantages mirror those of using spot television. Clutter. Radio messages come in waves. Listeners may tune out or become “button pushers” when your message is aired, particularly those listening in vehicles. Difficult to Purchase. Spot rates are nonstandard, so cost comparisons on the basis of effectiveness may be hard to make. Reaching an audience of sufficient size to achieve your goals could be difficult since so many stations exist and their markets may overlap to a degree. No Visual. Radio is sound only. Messages that could benefit from a visual component will be less effective. Because radio tends to be used as “background,” particularly in the home of office, it may get only casual attention from the listener. Also, your message is fleeting – if it isn’t heard properly the first time, it evaporates into thin air. Messaging Strategy Advertising. Focus on one key message at a time. Radio is relatively inexpensive, so if you have more than one message you can place spots in rotation and still get the repetition required for the messages to get through. Stay with simple, straightforward messages rather than complex concepts. Have a clear call to action. If you want a listener to contact you via phone or the Web, be sure to repeat the contact information at least three times during the spot. Public Relations. There are very few public relations opportunities on radio. If there is a business or technology program you can try to get on there, either as a guest on an interview type show or as an expert who can comment on technology news. If successful, your messaging will need to be subtle rather than a blatant plug for the business. For example, if you are asked a question about a particular technology, you can respond to the effect of, “In our XX practice, we often face concerns about that. Here’s how we usually deal with them.” One other idea is to find program hosts who like to talk about technology from time to time, and call in to the show when they are looking for answers.

c h a ra c te r i st i c s o f d i f fe re n t m e d i a | b i l l b o a rd s


Advantages High-Spot Exposure. Outdoor messages often (but not always) benefit from a significant lack of other message competition. The can literally “tower” over message clutter. Everyone who drives by that location will see your message

Used properly, billboards can be very effective at reaching a large number of people with a

sooner or later. High-Repeat Exposure. This is especially true in higher population areas where commuting is a way of life. Your message can be received by the same person time and time again. This repetition increases the chance your message is retained.

very simple message. Disadvantages Mobile Viewers. Drivers may have other things on their minds besides billboard messages. Traffic conditions may interfere with the driver seeing your message. Many distractions exist which may draw attention away from your message. Message Limitations. Your message has to be simple and powerful in order to be absorbed by someone actively driving. What you need to say may not fit the inherent limitations of billboards. Effective billboards usually have strong graphics to draw the eye. Expensive to Produce. Depending on the content you design it can be expensive to produce an attractive billboard on a large scale. Limited geography. Your message is only exposed to those drivers who pass it. There’s no way to know absolutely that those drivers are your target audience unless the billboard is just outside an area with a high concentration of prospects/customers. Messaging Strategy Advertising. Use billboards to build general name and positioning recognition. “ABC member, the company that does X,” with X being your primary business or business advantage. Public Relations. None.




Advantages Timely Exposure. Many business people in metropolitan areas use mass transit to get to work. Messages placed on the bus or subway thus have the potential to reach many prospects or customers who are in a business state of mind.

This type of outdoor media can be thought of as a “rolling billboard.” Transit media utilize the space available on public transit vehicles.

Geographic Targeting. A mass transit system is purely local. Your message dollars are spent exactly in the geographic area you have targeted. Economical. Given the number of people who may use mass transit in a metropolitan area, transit media may be very economical when cost is considered from the standpoint of number of impressions. Disadvantages Message Limitation. The physical space available for messages is usually fairly small. Your message must be simple in order to be conveyed effectively. Missing Audiences. Customers who don’t use mass transit miss your message entirely if it is located inside the vehicle. Message on the outside of the vehicle are in motion and may be hard to read. Transit media are always an ancillary way of sending your message. It needs to be used with some other media (newspaper, radio) so that non-transit using consumers are targeted. Messaging Strategy Advertising. Use transit media to build general name and positioning recognition. “ABC member, the company that does X,” with X being your primary business or business advantage. Public Relations. None.


Advantages Ubiquity. Anyone you want to reach has computers, and online search is now the #1 way businesspeople find new products and services. There is an expectation that any company worth working with has a Web site at the minimum. Searchability. Search engines and search engine optimization have made it much easier for prospects to find you. They don’t even have to know you exist. The right search criteria will put you in front of them. Cost. Costs for a Web site are easily controllable. The site itself can be as simple or as complex as you need it to be. The more pages and functionality you add, the higher the cost. Still, whether your site is active or passive it is extremely cost-efficient.

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Depth of Message. You can add as many pages as you need to tell your story. The challenge is making it is well-organized so visitors can navigate easily and find what they need quickly. Control. You are basically responsible for the content and broadcasting of your Internet messages. No third person exerts any editorial decision over your material. Real-Time Sales. Electronic commerce allows visitors to complete a sales transaction at the point of message viewing rather than moving from one medium to another (e.g. from a radio ad to the phone). This is one of the great advantages of the Internet, and one which CompTIA is deeply committed to through its industry-wide Electronic Commerce and EDI initiatives. Tracking. You can track who is visiting your website through a variety of means. Web traffic reports, offers for white papers or promotions, or even a simple “submit a question” mechanism with an e-mail address, can help you identify those who are interested in your company. Analytics. With Web analytics software or partner you can do even more, such as determine how visitors enter and use your site and the order in which they view various pages. You can also see where they leave the site, allowing you to tweak . it or adjust requests for information to increase site “stickiness.” You can see which vendors your best and greatest number of leads are coming from, and even see which pages are never visited so you can remove them safely from the site. No sense in paying for pages no one views. Disadvantages The rule of thumb is you need to appear on the first two pages of results on the top search engines to maximize your effectiveness. Maintenance. The Web site is literally all yours. You need to maintain it and keep it fresh, otherwise it’s unlikely browsers will visit more than once. The days of simple and static sites are pretty much over. Sites today require a high degree of graphic style, or some form of interactivity in order to keep browsers engaged. Continually creating and changing message content can become a drain on time and energy if you don’t have one or more people dedicated to it. Costs can escalate if you eventually sub-contract this task.



Building A Media Resource Guide The process of “selling” your

First you need to create a list of the media in your area that

message to a media outlet

could be interested in reporting about your organization,

is very similar to how you sell

services, and activities. Step one is researching media outlets

computer products and

that cover the types of stories you want to place. Think about

services. In both cases you

what kind of story you’d like to see, then look through/watch/

identify your prospects, zero

listen to the media outlets to see if they cover that area. For

in on a customer need, provide

example, a local weekly shopper might be well targeted in terms

a product or service that

of geographic coverage, but if they don’t currently run business

fulfills that need, and follow

or back office technology stories they’re unlikely to be receptive

up with an evaluation of your

to your pitch. It’s just not their thing.

relative success.

b u i l d i n g a m e d i a re s o u rce g u i d e

Here are some suggestions of the types of outlets to research:

• Newspapers Daily, Weekly, Bi-weekly. Don’t forget specialized “shopping” publications that are often distributed without charge throughout a community.

• Magazines Local, regional, monthly. If you have customers concentrated in a certain industry, or feel you could sell an industry segment profitably, try the trade journals for those industries. Consider any business-to-business publications, including Chamber of Commerce publications..

• Wire Services Associated Press (AP), Reuters, and United Press International (UPI) are just three of the biggest traditional newswires. PR Newswire and Business Wire are two services that specialize in handling press releases. Always find out if the distribution service is done at a charge to you and if it includes Internet distribution as well as print distribution. PR Newswire’s phone number is (800) 682-9599. Business Wire’s phone number is (800) 227-0845.

• Talk Shows This includes radio and television. Check out your local network affiliate or cable television access station.

• News Programming Again, this includes television and radio news shows. Don’t forget business talk shows.



Once you know which outlets to target, the next step is to gather the names of reporters, editors, and producers who report on those stories. Building this list now will save you time when you have a time-sensitive message you want to place. There are a number of ways to gather contact information for your targets, including:

• Publication Masthead Print publications generally have a page somewhere with general contact information; some even have special phone numbers or e-mail addresses where you can send “news tips.”

• Media Outlet Web Site Both print and broadcast outlets are likely to have an online version of some sort, and often they have a “contact us” or “about us” section that provides basic contact information. In addition, many will provide the reporter’s e-mail address at the top or bottom of the story; sometimes it shows up as a link on the byline. Bloggers usually have an e-mail address somewhere on the blog’s main page, generally in a side column.

• White Pages The media outlet should appear in both print and online phone books.

• Yellow Pages Local media outlets will likely have their phone numbers listed in the Yellow Pages as well.

• Media Directories Usually available at public libraries, publications such as Cision’s Media Directories provide addresses, phone numbers, fax numbers, and reports’/editors’ names for newspapers, magazines, radio and television in every state. If you don’t see books, check with the library to determine if they have an online service you can access.

b u i l d i n g a m e d i a re s o u rce g u i d e | o b t a i n i n g m e d i a co n t a c t s


Once you are equipped with the name, address, and phone number of your outlet, you need to get the name of the right contact person. Having the right contact at the media outlet greatly increases your chance of successfully placing your message. Media outlets have established “beats” for computer technology stories. Some large news organizations have reporters that cover only these areas. Smaller media or general news organizations may have one editor who assigns stories to the staff at random. You will have to discover who handles the technology, computer or business beat for each media outlet on your list. Look in the directory or masthead; if it’s not there, call the media outlet and ask. In addition, if you sponsor any type of events – seminars, classes, special openings, etc. – be sure to ask for the calendar/events section editor’s name for your Resource Guide. The calendar section is a great way to get publicity for your company, particularly if you are in a heavily populated area where you are vying for the same news space with larger companies. Finally, if you plan to run larger or more accessible events, get the name of the photo editor at various newspapers. Sometimes the paper doesn’t have the resources for a full story, but they will always be on the lookout for interesting visuals that can run with a caption.

• Newspapers “Can I have the name and spelling of the reporter who covers computer technology?” (If your research has turned up that reporter’s name already, ask for contact information.) If the paper does not have a dedicated computer writer, then computer technology issues will probably be covered by someone in the business section. You can also ask for contact information for the business editor. “To whom should I send information regarding the computer technology industry?”



• Magazines “Can I have the name of your managing editor? And is managing editor his/her proper title?” (These titles vary by publication.)

• Wire Services “Do you have anyone in your bureau who covers computer/ technology issues?” (Most likely you will send information to the bureau chief.) Wire service reporters tend to segment by geography now rather than “beat,” so don’t be discouraged if there isn’t a local technology writer. Position your story as a local one instead of a technology story.

• Radio Talk Shows First listen to the station and determine if there is a program where your story will fit. If so, ask “May I have the contact information for the producer of the XYZ Show?” The producer is usually the gatekeeper for stories and guests. Know before you call whether the show has guests; if so, think through why the listening audience would be interested in what you have to say.

• Radio News Programming “May I have the name of the assignment editor?”

• Television News Shows “Do you have a reporter who covers computer technology issues?” or “May I have the name and number/extension of the assignment editor?” Get the full names of media contacts, along with titles, addresses, phone numbers, fax numbers, and e-mail addresses. And with the local/regional magazines, be sure to ask for their editorial calendar, which is a schedule that indicates when a publication will cover specific topics. Many business-oriented magazines devote coverage to computers and information technology at special times in the course of a year. If you know this schedule in advance you can better plan your communications campaign.

b u i l d i n g a m e d i a re s o u rce g u i d e | o b t a i n i n g m e d i a co n t a c t s



Preparing Information For The Media Your goal in message

Think about it – isn’t it usually true that the more you anticipate

preparation is to make it as

your customers’ needs, the greater the likelihood they’ll buy

easy as possible for the media

from you?

outlet to use your message. It is virtually impossible to

The media need information; with the 24 x 7 news cycle in play

overdo this. The more work

today that is true more than ever. You have information. The

you do for the media outlet,

better you prepare it, the greater chance it will get used. The

the greater your chance of

enclosed templates, which are based on CompTIA’s experience

successful message placement.

in gaining visibility for technology issues, are designed to take the work out of message preparation for both the member and the media outlet.

p re p a r i n g i n fo r m a t i o n fo r t h e m e d i a

CompTIA’s media relations experience has shown that most information is provided to the media using one or more of the following formats:

• News Releases News releases are the most common form of news dissemination. They are designed to present the facts in an interesting, objective way. News releases usually contain a quotation from an appropriate spokesperson. Posting a news release on a service such as BusinessWire or PRNewswire helps you broaden your audience reach and improve search rankings. Understand, however, that these services will do little to get your news published in local outlets. You will still need to send releases directly to the right reporters.

• Bylined Articles These are informative stories that focus on one particular topic. Bylined articles can appear as a feature story or they can be used as newsletter articles. Unless you were going to write the article anyway, you will want to submit an abstract first to be sure the targeted media is interested in your topic.

• Case Studies Stories about how you helped a customer solve a problem that many organizations have are always welcome, particularly if the customer is willing to be interviewed in relation to the story.

• Media Alerts These brief announcements alert the press to an impending event.

• Personal Interviews You could be interviewed about your business operations in general, or you could be sought out by editors as an expert/opinion leader on technology issues. In the latter capacity you may be asked to comment on a recent news event in the computer industry.

• Advertorials These articles are similar to bylined stories except they are forms of paid advertising. They look like editorials, but run with a disclaimer to indicate that they are paid communications. To run an advertorial you will contact the advertising department, not reporters.



p re p a r i n g i n fo r m a t i o n fo r t h e m e d i a

Whatever format you use to send your message, remember that message timeliness is relative. Some information is very timely and must be sent prior to the specific event. Examples include:

• • • •

New business or office openings New hires, promotions Seminars your company is sponsoring for local businesses and consumers Contract awards

Other information is not as time sensitive and is called “evergreen” in media jargon. Media outlets do not generally consider the following examples as breaking news:

• • • •

Bylined feature articles Feature articles about business aspects of the company Customer case studies New product/service offerings

However, to you, all these examples do have some timeliness about them. Don’t let your information get stale. A new product announcement hardly qualifies as such . six months after the fact. When you have something to communicate, do it quickly. . A steady stream of timely messages helps you create a vibrant and exciting image for your business. Samples of press releases, bylined articles, media alerts, and advertorials are all included in this CompTIA Marketing Tool Kit. CompTIA, working with media professionals, has designed these easy-to-personalize templates to standard media configurations. The templates, once filled in with pertinent information about your firm, are ready for distribution to your chosen media outlet.



Delivering Your Story The following publicity tools

These tools are provided to

are included in this section:

you in template form. Slots

Remember, if you are going to use printed copies of these publicity tools they should always be printed on your

where you can customize

company’s letterhead, not plain paper.

• Press releases

the template are indicated

Also, proofread everything you send .

• Bylined stories

by square brackets [ ]. The

to receive false facts, wrong dates, or

• Pitch letters

information you should insert

misspelled names. The less work they

• Media alerts

is named within the brackets.

material, the greater chance you have .

• Case studies

In some cases you have

of it being placed. One careless mistake

• The media interview

been provided with specific

future submissions.

• Corporate responsibility/

suggestions about what to

community involvement

to the media. The media do not like .

have to do assuring accuracy in your

can cause problems with placing

If you are sending via e-mail, do not

use when customizing. Some

send anything with an attachment

• Advertorials

templates may have several

unless the reporter has given you

• Brochures

choices listed in the brackets.

• Ad slicks

These are meant as a guide, so feel free to edit any of these materials in any way that suits your needs. We have tried to provide you with the most typical format available.

permission ahead of time. The media is very virus-averse, and most reporters won’t open an e-mail that shows an attachment (including a v-card or an embedded logo). Instead, cut and paste the text into the body of the e-mail.


Press releases, also called news releases, are a common format for sending messages to the news media. An effective press release is short (no more than 1.5 pages including the “About XYZ Company” section), direct, and sticks to communicating facts. Quotations from spokespersons are nearly always used. Press releases are meant to draw attention to an event or business activity. A press release may be printed verbatim, or it may spark an editor’s or reporter’s interest in writing a more in-depth story about your activities or the computer technology industry in general. An excerpt may also be used in “news in brief” sections. No matter how it is used, you have succeeded in gaining valuable publicity for your firm. The press releases in this CompTIA Marketing Tool Kit have been created in a standard format recognizable and acceptable to all media. Simply fill in the blanks with information pertinent to your firm and print the release on your company letterhead. ALWAYS include a contact name and telephone number so that media who want more information can reach someone knowledgeable. Choose a secondary media contact person as a back-up in case the primary contact is traveling or otherwise unavailable. Switchboard or receptionist personnel should be instructed how to route calls from the media. It is critical to solidify your media connection when they approach you by responding in a professional and timely manner. The sample press release has a quotation and a place to insert a spokesperson’s name. This person is typically a senior-level manager such as the general manager or company president. Regardless of whom you designate, that person should be prepared and available to respond to inquiries from the media. Flexibility is the key here. Reporters are often on deadline, and thus need immediate answers. If you’re sending out a news release and a reporter calls to follow up, your spokesperson needs to make him/herself available on the reporter’s schedule. If he/she isn’t willing to stop what they’re doing or get back to the reporter quickly, . it’s unlikely your news will appear and your efforts will be wasted. The slots you should customize within the release are noted with square brackets [ ]. The press release offers you examples of information already in the brackets. If these examples meet your needs, then use them. If more than one example is offered, simply select what applies to your news. If you fill in your own information and name other firms or products, be careful about using the Trademark (™) and Registered (®) symbols. When in doubt, find out from the company whose name you intend to use as to the correct use of these marks.

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When you have filled in all the blanks with the appropriate information, double-check these elements before sending out your press release:

• Spelling – Especially the editor’s or reporter’s name and address. • Factual accuracy. • Quotations and mentions – Don’t quote or mention your customers without their authorization. For larger enterprises, be sure the spokesperson is cleared to be mentioned by the company’s corporate communications department.

• Photography – If you are sending via e-mail, do not send a photo right away. Offer a photo in the pitcher letter and allow the publication to specify the format and size. Always offer a photo caption in the e-mail that describes the content and context of the photo. If you are offering a photo of someone who does not work for your company, you should have them sign a Photo Release Form.

• Send your releases to the appropriate editors and reporters. Your Resource Guide should have this information.



SAMPLE PRESS RELEASE 1 – Product or Service

[Your company name]


For Immediate Release


[Your name]

[Your phone #] [COMPANY NAME] Introduces New [PRODUCT OR SERVICE] New offering helps organizations [LIST ONE OR MORE BUSINESS BENEFITS].

[Your City, State]. [Date] – With the rapid pace of business today, many organizations are finding it difficult to [DESCRIBE A CHALLENGE THE PRODUCT OR SERVICE WILL SOLVE]. Recognizing this challenge, [Your Company], [SHORT DESCRIPTION OF COMPANY OR BUSINESS MESSAGE], today announced that it is now offering [PRODUCT OR SERVICE] to [CLASS OF BUSINESS, SUCH AS ENTERPRISE, SMALL BUSINESS] to help them [LIST ONE OR MORE BUSINESS BENEFITS]. By incorporating features such [LIST THREE FEATURES], the [PRODUCT OR SERVICE] enables organizations to work better and more efficiently. The [MOST IMPORTANT FEATURE] in particular helps them [KEY BENEFIT]. “This [PRODUCT OR SERVICE] makes it easier for organizations to achieve [BUSINESS GOAL],” said [SPOKESPERSON] of [YOUR COMPANY] “It is ideal for [CLASS OF BUSINESS] that want to maximize the effectiveness of their IT budgets while staying ahead of the technology curve.” The [PRODUCT OR SERVICE] is available immediately. Pricing starts at [PRICE, ADD QUALIFIERS IF NECESSARY]. For more information, go to www.[WEBADDRESS]. About [YOUR COMPANY]

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(Use this closing paragraph only if you are an A+ Authorized Service Center) [Your company] is a CompTIA A+ Authorized Service Center™, a designation the Better Business Bureau recommends consumers use to determine a reseller’s level of commitment to computer service quality. To date, more than 180,000 technicians have become CompTIA A+™ Certified and more than 1,800 firms have become CompTIA A+ Authorized Service Centers™. The designation is awarded by CompTIA, the Computing Technology Industry Association™, the voice of the world’s $3 trillion information technology industry. CompTIA membership extends into more than 100 countries and includes companies at the forefront of innovation; the channel partners and solution providers they rely on to bring their products to market; and the professionals responsible for maximizing the benefits organizations receive from their technology investments. [Your Company], a member of CompTIA, is located at [Your address] and can be reached at [Your phone #]. (Use this closing paragraph if you are not an CompTIA A+ Authorized Service Center) [Your Company], an established dealer of computers, software and peripherals, is a member of CompTIA, the Computing Technology Industry Association™, the voice of the world’s $3 trillion information technology industry. CompTIA membership extends into more than 100 countries and includes companies at the forefront of innovation; the channel partners and solution providers they rely on to bring their products to market; and the professionals responsible for maximizing the benefits organizations receive from their technology investments. [Your Company] is located at [Your address] and can be reached at [Your phone #].



SAMPLE PRESS RELEASE 2 – Personnel Announcement

[Your company name]


For Immediate Release


[Your name]

[Your phone #] [PERSON’S NAME] Joins [COMPANY NAME] New [TITLE] will help reseller [SHORT DESCRIPTION OF ROLE].

[Your City, State]. [Date] – [YOUR COMPANY], a leading provider of technology products and services for businesses in the {LOCATION] area, today announced that [NAME] has joined the firm as [TITLE]. In this role, [he/she] will be responsible for [RESPONSIBILITIES]. [NAME] joins [YOUR COMPANY] after successfully serving as [TITLE] at [PREVIOUS COMPANY] for [NUMBER OF YEARS, IF SIGNIFICANT]. During that time, [HE/ SHE] [BRIEF LIST OF DUTIES FROM RESUME]. [NAME] [LIST OF SIGNIFICANT ACCOMPLISHMENTS]. Prior to joining [PREVIOUS COMPANY], [NAME] was a [TITLE] with [COMPANY]. [HE/SHE] also [LIST PRIOR EMPLOYMENT EXPERIENCE/ACCOMPLISHMENTS]. “The addition of [NAME] to the [YOUR COMPANY] team is an important one for our customers,” said [SPOKESPERSON] of [YOUR COMPANY] “[HIS/HER] expertise allows us to upgrade our [SPECIFICS] offering and break new ground in that area. We are pleased to have [HIM/HER] on board and available for our customers.” About [YOUR COMPANY]

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(Use this closing paragraph only if you are a A+ Authorized Service Center) [Your company] is a CompTIA A+ Authorized Service Center™, a designation the Better Business Bureau recommends consumers use to determine a reseller’s level of commitment to computer service quality. To date, more than 180,000 technicians have become CompTIA A+™ Certified and more than 1,800 firms have become CompTIA A+ Authorized Service Centers™. The designation is awarded by CompTIA, the Computing Technology Industry Association™, the voice of the world’s $3 trillion information technology industry. CompTIA membership extends into more than 100 countries and includes companies at the forefront of innovation; the channel partners and solution providers they rely on to bring their products to market; and the professionals responsible for maximizing the benefits organizations receive from their technology investments. [Your Company], a member of CompTIA, is located at [Your address] and can be reached at [Your phone #].

(Use this closing paragraph if you are not a CompTIA A+ Authorized Service Center) [Your Company], an established dealer of computers, software and peripherals, is a member of CompTIA, the Computing Technology Industry Association™, the voice of the world’s $3 trillion information technology industry. CompTIA membership extends into more than 100 countries and includes companies at the forefront of innovation; the channel partners and solution providers they rely on to bring their products to market; and the professionals responsible for maximizing the benefits organizations receive from their technology investments. [Your Company] is located at [Your address] and can be reached at [Your phone #].



SAMPLE PRESS RELEASE 3 – Technology Certification

[Your company name]


For Immediate Release


[Your name]

[Your phone #] [COMPANY NAME] Is Now [TECHNOLOGY]-Certified

Latest certification assures reseller is up on all the latest information for [SPECIFICS OF TECHNOLOGY] . [Your City, State]. [Date] – [TECHNOLOGY] has been touted in the media as a means to [PRIMARY BENEFITS]. But along with those benefits comes some significant challenges. As part of its commitment to its customers, [YOUR COMPANY] today announced that it has received [SPECIFIC CERTIFICATION] through CompTIA™ (Computing Technology Industry Association), the voice of the world’s $3 trillion technology industry. Achieving [SPECIFIC CERTIFICATION] has been no small feet. Personnel from [YOUR COMPANY] had to successfully complete training in several areas related to [TECHNOLOGY, including [LIST AREAS]. The entire process took place over a period of several months. Now, however, company personnel are thoroughly qualified to help their customers with all aspects of the technology, including [ASPECTS]. “Many of our customers have been looking for help with [TECHNOLOGY] for some time,” said [SPOKESPERSON] of [YOUR COMPANY] “While we have been able to work with it, we always want to be sure that we’re providing our customers with the best advice and assistance available. By investing in {SPECIFIC CERTIFICATION] certification we are now better prepared to fulfill that promise, and help our customers achieve [BUSINESS GOALS].” About [YOUR COMPANY]

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(Use this closing paragraph only if you are an A+ Authorized Service Center) [Your company] is a CompTIA A+ Authorized Service Center™, a designation the Better Business Bureau recommends consumers use to determine a reseller’s level of commitment to computer service quality. To date, more than 180,000 technicians have become CompTIA A+™ Certified and more than 1,800 firms have become CompTIA A+ Authorized Service Centers™. The designation is awarded by CompTIA, the Computing Technology Industry Association™, the voice of the world’s $3 trillion information technology industry. CompTIA membership extends into more than 100 countries and includes companies at the forefront of innovation; the channel partners and solution providers they rely on to bring their products to market; and the professionals responsible for maximizing the benefits organizations receive from their technology investments. [Your Company], a member of CompTIA, is located at [Your address] and can be reached at [Your phone #]. (Use this closing paragraph if you are not a CompTIA A+ Authorized Service Center) [Your Company], an established dealer of computers, software and peripherals, is a member of CompTIA, the Computing Technology Industry Association™, the voice of the world’s $3 trillion information technology industry. CompTIA membership extends into more than 100 countries and includes companies at the forefront of innovation; the channel partners and solution providers they rely on to bring their products to market; and the professionals responsible for maximizing the benefits organizations receive from their technology investments. [Your Company] is located at [Your address] and can be reached at [Your phone #].





• [Your Company] Has New [Product or Service] Immediately Available • [Your Company] Achieves A+ Authorized Service Center™ status • [Your Company] Announces Expanded Technical Services and Customer Training • Capabilities • [Your Company] Awarded [Contract] • [Your Company] Announces Seminar for [Purpose] • [Your Company] Announced As Recipient of [Award] • [Your Company] Opens in [Location] • [Your Company] Appoints [Name] to [Position]

Date I hereby grant [YOUR COMPANY] permission to use my likeness in photograph(s)/ video in any and all publications and in any and all other media, whether now known or hereafter existing, in perpetuity. I will make no monetary or other claim against [YOUR COMPANY] for the use of said photograph(s)/video. Name (print full name) Signature Address City, State, Zip code Telephone Requested by

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Bylined articles offer an opportunity to demonstrate your expertise or express your opinion on a topic that is important to both you and the readership. They also help build your credentials and credibility, since the act of running an article you wrote implies a level of endorsement by the publication in which it runs. The term “byline” is very literal; it refers to the section just under the headline that says “By [Your Name].” This prominent placement helps build name recognition for you and your firm, as does the “About the author” slug at the end. Prospective customers are much more likely to be receptive to doing business with your firm if their image of you has been formed in part through bylined articles. These articles provide an insight into your level of knowledge and ability to help customers solve business and technology problems. Your business image can be enhanced a great deal by successful placement of bylined stories. They can be difficult to place at times, but that is also one of the main reasons they are such effective image builders. Bylined articles are used mainly in print media: newspapers, newsletters, magazines, and special advertising circulars. Remember to consider publications that focus on your local community or region. Chamber of Commerce publications or general trade publications are also good targets for your articles. Many industries have a trade association newsletter. If the newsletter is focused on providing practicable information to its members, and you have knowledge and experience specific to that industry, then it may be a good prospect for your article. Bear in mind that the rate of change in technology is so swift that other industries are often scrambling to keep up with the latest computing solutions to business problems. As a value-added member, this is your greatest advantage. Publications have different guidelines on accepting bylined stories. Some have strict limitations on length or topic. In all cases, the article must provide some practicable information of interest to the publication’s readers, and cannot be blatant promotional pieces for your business. In fact, most times the only place you can mention your own company is in the “About the author” section at the end. Typically, this information is presented in a “how-to” or a “problem-solution” format. The bylined articles in this member kit follow these formats. For example, “How to Choose a Computer Reseller” is an obvious “how-to” story as the title shows. “Upgrading Your Computer” takes a problem-solution approach.



Regardless of your article topic, successful placement will depend upon routing your piece to the correct person at the media outlet you choose. In this respect, bylined articles are similar to press releases. If you have properly built your Media Resource Guide (see BUILDING A MEDIA RESOURCE GUIDE on page 24), finding the right person should not be difficult. Note however, that industry-specific publications may have rotating editorships. This is especially true of state-level association newsletters, where the person responsible for specific areas of content may change monthly. In this case, telephone the association’s office in your state and find out who the editor is. Say you have a short article about computing technology that you think would be of interest to the association’s members. Then, call the editor and verify that he/she is responsible for the publication’s content. It will take extra effort and phone calls to find the right person in this circumstance, but it can be worth it. Often, that person is a business principal like yourself, which will make him/her more receptive to your article.


1. Review your Media Resource Guide. Target publications you think would be receptive to your article. Remember to think in terms of how your information would benefit the reader. Your first goal is to offer something useful. Be sure you are familiar with the publication and who receives it, especially with trade publications. When dealing with business prospects, you want to be sure your information is going to a decision-maker or someone who influences technology-buying decisions. Develop a list of media contacts to contact.

2. E-mail the contacts on your list with an abstract. This is a short piece (usually a paragraph or two) that describes the story’s topic and how the information in the story will benefit the readers.

3. If you don’t receive a response from the contact within seven working days, make a follow-up call to your contacts. Ask about their interest in the story. If they are not interested, politely ask why. Perhaps only minor changes in direction are needed.

4. If your abstract is accepted, ask how the publication wants the story submitted. Is e-mail preferred? (Most will ask for an electronic copy via e-mail these days.) Find out what format they want. (Most will request it in Microsoft Word, but it never hurts to ask.) The easier you make it for them to publish, the greater your chance of success.

5. Send biographical information with the article as a matter of course. Each of the enclosed bylined articles has a generic “bio” format at the end of the story for you to customize. Be sure to keep it short – brevity increases the likelihood of publication. Ask if the publication wants a photograph, and what specs they need.

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6. Be sure to ask if they have an idea of when the story will be printed. Don’t be surprised if they are not sure. Also, don’t be disappointed if the story isn’t published when it was scheduled – it could have been bumped for a recently developed story. Publication times vary widely and depend on the schedule of the publication itself. You may have to wait a month or two to see your story in print. If this is the case, be sure you do not lose track of the time.

7. The publication may ask you to sign an “author’s agreement” before publishing your article. Normally these are simple documents that state the article is your original work (i.e. it was not plagiarized) and that you release all rights to them. Some also stipulate that you won’t submit the same article to another publication. Often they are only concerned with direct competitors, but you should check to be sure. If they want complete exclusivity you can always change the article around (use a different theme, examples, etc.) to give to another, non-competitive publication. You may be able to tie other publicity or promotional events to the publication of your story (see PUBLICITY LINKS on page 92). If your article will be published, ask about acquiring extra copies of the publication for your promotional uses. Follow up on this after the finished article is printed. If you want more than a half dozen copies the publication may require you to purchase reprints. These are not inexpensive so be prepared. Finally, realize that the publication may edit your article without contacting you. This is often done for space considerations. Bylined articles can be difficult to place. Finding suitable media outlets requires some research and telephone calls. However, bylined articles are one of the print media’s most credible ways to convey the message you want your customers and potential customers to see.




Getting Full Value From Your Computer Supplier By: [Your name] Computers have become as much a part of the business landscape as telephones and the coffee maker. And not just in traditional white collar jobs either. Even the workers who get their hands dirty in large, noisy rooms today use complex technologies in their jobs on a daily basis. At its core, the purpose of installing all that technology is to improve productivity. Yet achieving that goal requires more than signing the check for hardware and software. Someone still has to install it properly, optimize it to fit your business, work through any conflicts with other systems, and perhaps even train your people on how to operate it. That’s where it pays to work with a value-added computer reseller. A true value-added computer reseller (VAR) offers a variety of support services that other suppliers (such as simple computer retailers) do not offer. Rather than seeing its job as ending when the technology crosses your threshold, a VAR’s goal is to build a relationship with you that has lasting value for both parties. The VAR will seek to understand your industry, your business, and your specific operation, advise you on technologies you need, and most importantly provide ongoing support to make sure you maximize the value of your investment. By acting as a partner rather than a simple vendor, the VAR will also help you make sure your company’s technology remains up to date so you can remain competitive. Remember that technology is changing and improving every day. If you fall behind, your business will likely get left behind. So how do you establish this relationship and get the most bang for your buck? A three-step process is the key. Step One – Be sure you think of your relationship with your computer reseller as a partnership too. Help your VAR understand your computing needs. What do you hope the technology will do for you? Discuss how you want the technology to make your business more efficient and productive. Review your current system’s problems and shortcomings. An open dialogue with your reseller can help them to devise custom (rather than canned) solutions for you. Determine how the reseller organization communicates with other customers. Are workshops, training, or seminars offered regularly? Ask if the reseller offers customer training after the sale, and if you have a service representative assigned to your account.

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Step Two – Know how much technical equipment your system requires. Will you need on-going technical assistance or just periodic check-ups? Make sure you understand your reseller’s service capabilities and agree on an after-sales support program that meets your needs. Also, develop an emergency plan with your reseller. You want to know in advance what you can count on in an emergency. Step Three – Tap the reseller’s expertise. For instance, if you have a single-outlet clothing store, ask what the VAR has done to help other retailers with similar business challenges. Ask about other industries, too. Sometimes concepts are applicable across businesses, even though the final solution may be highly customized. Ask your reseller. Initiate the partnership. Make sure your reseller understands why they were selected for your business, and what you expect as a customer. The investment you make in your reseller will complement your system’s ability to pay dividends throughout its useful service life. [Author’s name] is [title] of [company] based in [city], [state]. For further information about the services computer resellers provide, call [author’s name] at [phone number].




Are You Ready for VoIP? By: [Your name] One of the toughest decisions an organization has to make is which technology bandwagons to jump on. It’s a lot like rolling the dice. The new technology could wind up being e-mail – something everyone wonders how they ever lived without. Or it could be any of a myriad of bygone technologies that sounded good at the time but have since slipped into obscurity. One of the current bandwagons organizations are looking at in a big way is Voice over IP, or VoIP. It certainly sounds good in theory. Moving from plain old telephone service (POTS) to VoIP would seemingly provide several benefits, not the least of which is eliminating the monthly phone bill. It also serves as the base technology for unified communications, which allows you to receive all your calls, e-mails, faxes, instant messages, etc. on a single device. At first glance it’s hard to believe there would be any hesitation. It seems like there is a lot to be gained by making the switch. But as many organizations have learned over the years, every great new innovation has its downside. After all, while e-mail brought us quick and easy communications, it also brought us viruses, spyware, and spam. That’s why it’s important to understand the full impact VoIP can make on the organization – good and bad – and to work with a trusted reseller who can help you avoid some of the pitfalls. Here, in no particular order, are some things to consider. Is this thing on? One of the goals of any communications technology (such as Internet service providers) is to offer dialtone reliability. What they mean is when you pick up your phone using POTS, you expect it to work. That may not be the case with VoIP, at least for the immediate future. Can you accept being without phone service at times in order to gain longer-term benefits? One solution is to move VoIP into noncritical or non-customer-facing areas until you get the bugs worked out, then roll it out to areas such as sales (and the CEO). Growing pains. Voice traffic requires a lot more bandwidth than data traffic. Without getting into all the technical details, adding VoIP to a network designed strictly for data could quickly bring the whole thing to a halt. At that point, not only are your VoIP users unhappy, your data users are too. Before you start moving VoIP

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technology in, be sure to upgrade the network as necessary to accept it. It’s like a developer putting in storm sewers before building the houses. If the infrastructure can’t handle the traffic, the rest can get washed away. Clearly speaking. Again without getting too technical, the way data travels through the network is in small packets. These packets break up the information, send it through the lines, then reassemble it on the other side. If data packets arrive out of order it’s no big deal – the system can wait until it’s all there then present it. With voice traffic, packets arriving out of order can make the message sound as though it’s being scrambled on one of those devices in a Tom Clancy movie. To avoid this, the system has to be tuned and tweaked by experts. Even then, a packet may get dropped or placed out of order occasionally, but it should reduce the “huhs?” to a minimum. Vive le resistance. As you well know, some people are more resistant to change than others. They may not be willing to give up their POTS telephone until you pry it…well, you get the picture. It may take working around that person, or that department, to get a VoIP program implemented. Once they see the value, and perhaps see what they’re missing, those people are more likely to accept the change. Can you handle success? For all its risks and downside, many users who move to VoIP and unified communications love it – once they get used to it. This fact can create a demand that turns into a political football within the organization, especially if you’re doing a staged rollout. Making sure you have a good plan in place, including a rationale for priorities, will go a long way toward keeping the office politics out of what should otherwise be an orderly transition. Find the right partner. There are many nuances to replacing POTS with VoIP. As a result, it doesn’t make a lot of economic sense to devote too many IT resources to learning something the organization only plans to do once. Finding the right partner that already has the knowledge and skills in place will help make the project go a great deal smoother – and can help turn a potential nightmare into a big win for the entire organization. Value added resellers (VARs) can help you choose the right equipment for your needs, develop the plan, install your VoIP system and support it 24x7. It’s definitely worth considering. [Author’s name] is [title] of [company] based in [city], [state]. For further information about the services computer resellers provide, call [author’s name] at [phone number].




• • • • • • • •

The ABCs of SOAs Managed Services: The Keys to Doing More with Less Keeping RFID Projects on Track Going Green Doesn’t Have to Cost You Green Separating Fact from Fiction in Certification Keeping a Lid on Rogue Wireless Networks I Told You I Don’t Want Any Spam! Preparing Your Organization for Web 2.0

d e l i ve r i n g yo u r sto r y | p i tc h l e t te r s


Pitch letters are designed to create media interest in your story. They provide journalists background and context information not contained in your press release or bylined story. In other words, they’re designed to help “sell” your story to journalists before they get into the actual news. Pitch letters also provide an opportunity to let journalists know what your qualifications are, and show how you and your firm could be a valuable information resource on computer technology issues. There are all types of pitch letters, depending on what you’re trying to promote to the journalist. The one thing they all share in common is the ability to show journalists why their readers will be interested in the story you’re pitching. You always want to look at what’s in it for the publication and the reader rather than what’s in it for you. A sample that can be used for a news release is included in this member kit. Simply customize it with your individual information and you are ready to submit your publicity piece. Be sure to use your Media Resource Guide to develop your media targets. Almost all pitch letters these days are delivered via e-mail. Reporters are notoriously busy people who receive a lot of e-mail each day, so you’ll need to make sure your pitch letter stands out. Begin with a clever subject line to capture attention and encourage the reporter to open your e-mail. Clearly state your premise in the first paragraph, along with what you want. The following paragraph(s) can then add detail. Try to keep the entire pitch to three or four short paragraphs. Be sure to include your phone number at the end in case the reporter wants to call you. If the pitch letter is for a press release, cut and paste the text of the release into the e-mail, after your signature. Pitch letters are very useful in attracting attention to your news, but do not rely on them to automatically motivate reporters or editors to action. Phone calls are often necessary. You should always be cultivating a relationship with media professionals. That way, your name or your firm’s name will stand out when your story comes in “over the transom.”




Pitch Letter for a Press Release Announcing Expanded Technical Service or Training Capabilities Subject line: New training program helps local companies keep up with tech changes Dear [Editor’s Name]: Computers are supposed to make our lives easier. But often they’re so complex they seem to do the opposite. That’s why I thought your readers might be interested in a new series of training classes being offered by [YOUR COMPANY]. These classes give students the opportunity to learn about [TOPIC] from our expert trainers. Included will be [KEY POINTS TO BE COVERED]. Classes are being offered on [DAY/DATE, TIME, FREQUENCY INFORMATION]. Interested parties can sign up at [WEB ADDRESS]. The press release below contains more details about the new training program. If you have questions, or would like to speak with [COMPANY SPOKESPERSON] about the program, please call me at [PHONE NUMBER] or send me a return e-mail and I will arranged it at your convenience. Thank you for your time. Sincerely, [Your name]

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Pitch Letter for a Customer Case Study Subject line: Case study – [CUSTOMER] keeps tires rolling with RFID program Dear [Editor’s Name]: One of the first things any student is taught about business is the law of supply and demand. And because it’s the first thing, everyone assumes it’s an easy thing. But in these days of “just in time” delivery, making sure inventory is in the right place at the right time has become a huge challenge. That’s certainly the way it was for [CUSTOMER]. They were finding that [CHALLENGE]. With customer satisfaction on the line, they knew they had to do something about it. That’s when they called in [YOUR COMPANY] to improve the flow of goods, and make sure it was where it needed to be. [YOUR COMPANY] recommended that [CUSTOMER] instituted a radio frequency identification (RFID) program. RFID itself is nothing new. Large retailers such as Wal-Mart have been using it for years to track inventory coming from suppliers through their warehouses and into the stores. But for a company the size of [CUSTOMER] it seemed like a radical step. But fearing the loss of business if they didn’t do something, they plunged ahead. The results have been outstanding – “better than we hoped for in our wildest dreams” according to CEO [NAME]. Since instituting the RFID program, [DESCRIBE THE RESULTS – BE AS SPECIFIC AS POSSIBLE]. They have also been able to increase their ability to service customers by X percent without having to add staff or facilities. It’s a real success story that demonstrates the value of a leading edge technology. If you would like to speak to [NAME, TITLE] at [CUSTOMER] about the difference this program has made, and how it has helped this local company grow, please call me at [CONTACT INFORMATION]. Thank you for your consideration. Sincerely, [NAME]





• • • • • • • •

CompTIA A+ Authorized Service Center™ Status Availability of a New Software Product Availability of a New Hardware Product Training Seminar Receipt of an Award New Office Location Significant Personnel Appointment Case Study on a Successful Installation/New Technology Approach

Media alerts are sent to reporters or editors to spark their interest in an upcoming event you are planning. They are basic “invitations” to your event. Media alerts provide the editor, reporter, or electronic media producer with the “who, what, when, where, and why” of your event. In a media alert you are asking a news outlet to devote some of their resources to reporting your event. Media alerts contain no other information – just the factual data about your event. Typically, media alerts are e-mailed or faxed to the media outlet. You should check in advance how each outlet on your target list prefers to receive such information. You will also want to post this information on your Web site’s home page, of course. An established relationship with a media outlet offers you the best chance of successful placement. As always, getting your material to a person you have spoken with or met with in the past increases your chance of success. However, some news outlets process media alerts differently than other news items. For radio and television stations, the “Assignment Desk” should receive a copy. For print media such as newspapers and magazines, alert the “Photo Assignment Desk” as well as the appropriate reporter if your event has a strong visual element. A single template you can customize is included in this CompTIA Marketing Tool Kit. Media alerts contain the same basic information with no embellishments. However, feel free to vary the order in which the information is presented. For example, if a highprofile personality is attending, then place your “WHO” information second. That will also get the attention of your media contact and increase your chance of success.

d e l i ve r i n g yo u r sto r y | s a m p l e m e d i a a l e r t


[BASIC STATEMENT OF WHAT THE EVENT IS] WHAT: [Briefly describe the event] WHEN: [Date and time] WHERE: [Location] WHO: [Who will attend] WHY: [The purpose of the event. Also, why certain people may be attending} Media Contact: [Your name] [Phone] [e-mail] [Internet address]




Customer case studies are some of the most powerful types of stories you can pitch to the media. They’re valued by the media almost everyone is interested in learning how other organizations have solved problems similar to their own. And they’re valuable to you because they provide an opportunity to showcase your knowledge and expertise. Good case studies follow a classic storytelling arc. They begin with a simply stated problem – XYZ Company had noticed that they were losing productivity and were seeking an answer. Then they describe the solution – that’s when XYZ company turned to your organization to help them. They conclude with the results that were attained – proof that the solution was a good one, and yielded the outcome they desired. The perpetual challenge with case studies is getting customers to agree to do them in the first place. The larger (and more desirable) the customer is, the more difficult it usually is to obtain the permission you need. If you want to build a case study or obtain a testimonial, the place to start is with your key contact. Make sure he/she is willing to participate; then ask who at the company would need to be involved in the approval process. If you can enlist your contact as an ally, he/she will help walk it through the process. Larger organizations will likely have a marketing communications manager, director of corporate communications, public relations manager, VP of Marketing, or other such person. It is important to get this marketing person’s agreement to do the case study. Otherwise, you could put in a lot of work only to find out at the last minute that your key contact was not authorized to speak on behalf of the company. See the end of this section for a sample letter/e-mail requesting permission to do a case study. The best time to approach a customer for a case study or testimonial is within three months of completion of the project. The program will still have the afterglow of success, and should also be showing some measurable results.

d e l i ve r i n g yo u r sto r y | c a s e st u d i e s /c u sto m e r te st i m o n i a l s

There are many reasons a customer won’t agree to participate in a case study, or even provide a one-paragraph testimonial for you to use in marketing materials and on your Web site. Some of the most common are:

• • • • •

They don’t want anyone to know they had this problem. They consider the solution a competitive advantage. “Corporate” won’t let them. They don’t talk about (or on behalf of) suppliers. They don’t see a benefit to investing the time.

Some of these objections can be overcome, while others cannot. If corporate really does have a rule against participating in a supplier’s case study you could do more harm than good by trying to pursue one. Here are some things you can do to increase your chances of getting a case study or testimonial:

1. Write participation in a case study/testimonial into the contract. Add language stating that once the project is completed to satisfaction, the customer agrees to participate in a case study and provide a testimonial quote. It may get knocked out during negotiations, but if it doesn’t you’ll have a better chance of securing participation.

2. Show the customer what’s in it for them. For very little work on their part, they will receive free publicity that shows them as a forward-thinking company. Explain how you plan to use it, and how it will help them drive business as well.

3. Offer a discount on a product or service in exchange. How much you offer depends on how desirable the case study/testimonial is, but customers are generally more willing to help you out if they feel they’re getting something tangible in return.

4. Address any concerns. Explain to the customer what you will need from them in terms of a time commitment. Usually it’s an hour or so for the initial interview with your writer, then perhaps a half hour or so for the rest. Promise that the customer will have a chance to review and edit the case study before it goes out, then follow through on that promise. If they’re worried about the amount of time media interviews might take, set a limit on how many are acceptable. Ultimately, you goal is to demonstrate that the process will be rewarding and beneficial.



Once you’ve secured agreement to participate in a case study, you will need to put the story together. The outline at the end of this section provides a basic case study format. Start by thinking of what story you want to tell. Is there a special service you want to promote, or an expertise with a particular product? Did you do something innovative that your competitors can’t? When you have that, it’s time to begin the interview process. You can either do it yourself, or hire a professional writer to do it. Either way, develop a list of questions about the company and project to use as a guide during the interview process. Then set up an appointment to speak with the key contact at the customer. (Never just call up and launch into the questions without giving the contact adequate time to prepare.) When you have the answers you need, develop the story and run it through any internal review process first. When your team is happy, pass it to the customer for approval. Once you have the customer’s final approval the case study is ready. You can either leave it as a standard word processing document, or create a special format for case studies that can be used as promotional literature. If you are creating a special document, add in graphics as appropriate. If the graphics include photographs of the customer, have him/her sign the photo release form found on page 44. For testimonials, the process is simpler. Your best bet for getting what you need is to write the testimonial yourself, then ask the customer to edit and/or approve it. Just remember to be realistic in what you want, and write it from the customer’s point of view. Following is a sample case study format, along with some examples of case studies CompTIA has developed for its own use.

d e l i ve r i n g yo u r sto r y | c a s e st u d i e s /c u sto m e r te st i m o n i a l s

The Customer

Provide a brief description of the customer. Include details such

as when the company was founded, their industry, what their core business is, size of the business (if that is public knowledge), any well-known brands they offer. Most of this information can be found on the customer’s Web site. The Challenge

Describe what the primary challenge was. If it’s something

that the customer’s entire industry has trouble with, include that as well. Describe the effect that the challenge was having on the business – loss of productivity, unable to meet deadlines, too much time being spent on certain tasks, etc. If the customer tried other steps to remediate the problem, mention that as well. Build to a decision point – the customer knew something had to be done fast and started looking for a partner that could do it. The Solution

This is where you come in. Describe how the customer engaged

your firm, then set out the steps that were taken to develop a solution, starting with the most important issue and working your way down. For example, if there were hardware concerns, describe how you tested performance or simulated a failure, gathered data, provided an analysis, then implemented a solution. Include one or more quotes from the customer about how well thought-out the solution was and/or how well you worked. Also, be sure to include the customer’s personnel as being part of the solution – that often helps speed the approval process. If timing was a factor be sure this section reflects it, e.g. normally what you did takes three months but the project had to be completed in a month and a half due to a legal requirement. Finish with a statement about how the project was successfully implemented and all goals were met. The Results

Describe any results that have been documented. Hard evidence

is always more effective than soft. For example, being able to say that man-hours of labor were decreased by 20 percent is more effective than saying productivity was improved noticeably. Dollar savings (if that was the goal) is always good, as is throughput. If you don’t have quantifiable data to show, describe the effect the project has had on the business. Anything to show that the project was successful, and met or exceeded its goals. A final quote from the customer in this section may also serve as both a pull-out (highlighted) quote for the case study and as a testimonial for the Web site.




Dear [DECISION-MAKER], Recently, [YOUR COMPANY] completed a project to [PROJECT DETAILS] with [CUSTOMER COMPANY]. It is my understanding from [YOUR KEY CONTACT] that the project has been successful, and is already providing outstanding results. We would like to feature the work we performed for [CUSTOMER COMPANY] in a case study we are developing. In addition to showcasing the work we did, we believe it will show [CUSTOMER COMPANY] as a progressive leader that is concerned with [BENEFITS TO CUSTOMER COMPANY’S CUSTOMERS]. It will also look good to your customers and prospects to see a positive story about your company, extending your own public relations efforts at no cost to you. Please understand that we will perform the bulk of the work to create the case study. The only impositions we will make on your organization initially are for an hour or so to interview [KEY CONTACT] regarding the project and its background, and some time once it’s written for you to review and approve the final version. Once the case study is approved we plan to pitch it to [TYPE OF MEDIA OUTLET]. They may ask to speak with someone at [CUSTOMER COMPANY] regarding the story. Should that occur we will come to you for permission for a spokesperson to speak before agreeing to a story. Please let me know if all of this is agreeable. We are excited to tell your story. Thank you in advance for your help. Sincerely, [YOUR NAME] [YOUR TITLE]

d e l i ve r i n g yo u r sto r y | t h e m e d i a i n te r v i ew


Few media interactions can affect you and your firm’s image as much as the interview. Properly conducted, an interview can build your reputation by increasing your credibility as an expert. It can also help you become the “go-to” person for the reporter’s stories in the future. Technology reporters especially need a database of knowledgeable experts they can turn to when a news story breaks. Links to articles where you’re quoted should be posted immediately to your Web site. This is called “remerchandising the placement,” and it assures that customers and prospects can see what you had to say on the subject long after the original placement occurs. Quotations from the interview often furnish terrific material for you to include in other written pieces such as bylined stories. If one reporter is interested in a topic, others may be as well. Your overall goal in the interview is to tell your story to the audience. The reporter’s goal is to create news items of interest to the reader or viewer. These two goals may or may not be entirely compatible. Realize that the outcome of the interview is a “manufactured” product. Your words are edited, filtered and shaped by the process of reporting. The final news product is the result of many practical decisions by the reporter and the media outlet. Chiefly, the media outlet has to select what will be presented. The two major criteria they use for this selection are time and audience interest. That is, how much time (or space) can the media outlet devote to your interview, and what aspects of the story will interest their audience most. This selection and editing process is inherent to all news, but the process could end up changing the message you sent or thought you sent during the interview. There is also a risk that you could spend time being interviewed but not appear in the final article. The higher profile the media outlet is the bigger that risk since they will likely have more sources from which to choose. That’s why it’s important to prepare ahead of time and be sure you’re spot-on with both what you say and the way you say it.




Consider these factors before the interview. It will probably not be possible to identify all these factors in advance, but the more you know before the interview, the greater your chance of success.

• Your message Bear in mind that you may have little or no control over the final interview product. This

The following information is intended to help you minimize the possibility of your message being garbled or cut. To be prepared, you need to focus on the entire interview situation. Here are some things to consider.

means your communication objectives must be very basic. Pick two, or at most, three points about your business that you want the interview audience to remember. For example, the advantages of using an CompTIA A+ Authorized Service Center™, or the range of value-added services provided by members, may be appropriate. Whatever you choose, always keep those ideas in mind and try to weave them into your responses as much as possible. This message management technique, called “bridging” by the professionals, is practiced superbly by most politicians, who sometimes appear to be answering a question entirely different from the one they were asked! You should not have to go that far, but try to focus on your basic messages as much as possible. Two other points to keep in mind. One is to envision the headline you’d like to see, and make that your major point of emphasis. You may not get it, but it will help you stay focused. The other is to “start with the punchline,” then tell the story. In other words, begin with the point you want to make when answering a question, then explain what it means.

• Subject matter You will no doubt discuss the topic with the reporter at the time the interview is scheduled. But what you need to know is how wide or narrow the scope of the interview will be. What is the reporter looking for? Interviews can cover narrow technology topics (how to buy a computer) or broad industry topics (distribution or profitability issues). In what capacity are you being interviewed? Three possible roles are: Industry spokesperson, local business owner, technology expert. A combination of roles is also possible. This is not the same as acting! The reporter has a perception of who you are and what kind of information you can share with the audience. You are trying to discover what the reporter’s perceptions and expectations are. Be certain of the exact nature of the subject matter and who the reporter expects you to be during the interview.

d e l i ve r i n g yo u r sto r y | b e fo re t h e i n te r v i ew

• Format Know whether the interview will be conducted face-to-face, by telephone or via e-mail. Ask if you can get any of the questions in advance before the interview, stating you want to be sure you’re properly prepared to help the reporter out. This will help you prepare, although the reporter may be unable to grant your request. Nail down all the details up front. For live broadcast interviews, ask if listeners or viewers will call in with questions.

• Tone What kind of reception are your messages and information likely to get? How are they likely to be communicated by the reporter and the media outlet? Read or view some of the reporter’s previous work. The reporter’s style of questioning may be neutral or abrasive. Study the publication or previous editions of the broadcast program. You want to know if the interview might take a critical stance, be totally objective, or totally sympathetic to your message.

• Time and deadlines Ask how much time the reporter will need, and what his/her deadline is. If the reporter does pieces of varying lengths, ask whether this will be one of the short blurbs or a more in-depth article. This will help you set the proper expectations for the outcome.




Here are some points to keep in mind during the interview. In broadcast interviews you want to project a relaxed and confident image. The best way to do this is by thorough preparation – including practicing with a video camera (for television and vidcasts) or audio recorder (for radio and podcasts). Always remember that your responses are the substance of the interview. There is no such thing as speaking . “off the record.” If you don’t want something reported, then don’t mention it.

• Honesty If you don’t know the answer to a question, say so. Defer it to another source or offer to follow up with an accurate answer later. Don’t let the reporter put words in your mouth or assist you in speculating outside your area of expertise. Never lie. If you can’t answer a particular question, then politely, simply, and briefly state your reason. Don’t indulge in long explanations.

• Credibility Credibility is created by giving clear answers to questions. Use active language. Say that something “is,” not that it “seems to be.” Phrases such as “customers want,” or “the market wants” are more effective than using “I think.” Be sure you are really answering the question that was asked, not just hammering out your own message goals. Also, in live interviews, never read prepared responses. You can have notes handy, but speak conversationally. Use the right words for the right audience. Techies expect jargon – many consumers hate it. Also, the reporter may not fully understand technical talk.

• Brevity Rambling answers to questions can be misunderstood and affect your credibility. State the important information first when framing your answer. Do not volunteer information; let the reporter do his or her job by asking you the follow-up questions. Keep your responses simple. Occasionally ask, “Does that make sense?,” or, “Is this what you’re looking for?” to make sure your answers are tracking with the reporter’s needs. If the interview is on the telephone, be sure to listen well ask you speak in case the reporter wants to ask a question.

• Errors and misconceptions You must correct any misconceptions the reporter mentions. Briefly and courteously refute the error. You can say things such as, “That’s certainly the conventional assumption.” or, “A lot of people seem to think that.” Then give the reporter the correct information, but don’t dwell on it. If you make an error, correct it when you can, but don’t indulge in explanations about what you were thinking about and how you might have made the mistake in the first place. Remember, everyone involved wants the interview to go well. You, because it will generate positive publicity; and the media outlet, because it means a better quality news product.

d e l i ve r i n g yo u r sto r y | re s p o n s i b i l i t y/co m m u n i t y s e r v i ce


Becoming involved in various social and charitable endeavors in your local community is a great way to build both visibility and your organization’s reputation as a good company. It can also be a productive way to build contacts among important business leaders in your area. And, of course, it’s the right thing for a successful company to do – giving back to the community that supports it. Corporate responsibility programs can take many forms. Here are some examples:

• Commit to cleaning up a section of road in an “Adopt a Highway” program. • Become a major or minor sponsor of a 5K or 10K race. • Donate your services to help a local homeless shelter, church organization, or other charitable group.

• Become a corporate sponsor of “Character Counts” or a similar youth development program. • Sponsor local youth sports teams or leagues. • Become involved with local environmental efforts, or start one yourself; work with local disposal companies or governments on recycling technology products.

• Sponsor local festivals and/or groups devoted to the arts. • Work with local schools (elementary, middle school, high schools) on programs that encourage students to pursue jobs in the technology field.

• Establish a program to help senior citizens learn how to use computers/the Internet; offer training at community senior centers as well as assisted living facilities. Each of these programs offers an opportunity to get your business’ name out in the community, and have you associated with something positive. Some lend themselves more to additional publicity opportunities (such as a photo in the local newspaper) than others. But all will help you build goodwill in the community to further your business goals.




Advertorials are designed to look like a publication’s editorial column. An advertorial has a bylined author and provides readers with detailed information, much as a bylined article does. However, an advertorial carries a disclaimer from the publication indicating that the information is a form of paid advertising. When printed, the advertorial closely resembles an editorial column. Because they are essentially paid advertisements, advertorials can be much easier to place than other publicity pieces. Choosing the proper print media is the most important aspect of using your advertorial. Nearly any publication will be glad to take advertorials since they are paid advertising, so be certain that your selected media outlet reaches your customer base. Consult your MEDIA RESOURCE GUIDE and the CHARACTERISTICS OF MEDIA section in this CompTIA Marketing Tool Kit to help you select your media outlets. An “Ask the Expert” advertorial is included. Plan a campaign and run advertorials in selected media outlets at regular intervals. Some likely outlets for your advertorial are: daily newspapers, weekly newspapers, and regional magazines. These outlets all have placement costs that could differ significantly, so be sure to monitor your budget. As you develop the text you should keep it fairly neutral as opposed to making it a blatant promotional piece for your company. Otherwise, you might lose the audience – they will abandon the piece if they feel they’ve been deceived and there’s nothing of value in there for them. It is ok, however, to mention your company using phrases such as “[YOUR COMPANY] has found” or “Most companies [YOUR COMPANY] works with prefer.” Here are some other factors to consider when choosing an outlet for your advertorial.

• Audience You should research the publication’s readership before you place your advertorial. This includes data such as circulation numbers, geographic distribution, and audience demographics if available. The larger the publication, the more detailed this information will be. You should also ask yourself some basic questions as well. Do you read the publication? Do your peers or competitors? Are computer technology issues featured often or seldom in the publication? Also, consider the publication’s image and whether it’s consistent with the image you want to project for your business. Do you compete on service or price? Which do you think the publication’s readers will be more interested in? As always, study the media outlet carefully to make sure it is a good “fit” with your firm.

d e l i ve r i n g yo u r sto r y | h ow to p l a ce yo u r a d ve r to r i a l

• Cost Placement costs will probably vary considerably among different types of publications. However, costs within a single publication may also differ. Actual page positioning may affect costs. That is, whether your advertorial ends up on a left-handed or a right-hand page, and where exactly on that page it is placed. Different days of the week may have different placement costs. Some publications publish special technology editions with special placement rates. In general, try and think in terms of reach, which is how many people will see your advertorial, and frequency, which is how many times people will see it. Most placement costs are a function of the relationship between reach and frequency. This relationship will vary from publication to publication and is true of advertising costs in general.


1. Contact the advertising sales representative at the publications you have targeted. Explain the “Ask the Expert” advertorial campaign you want to run. Ask about frequency discounts since your campaign consists of more than one placement. Find out what the mechanical specs are, i.e. what do you need to furnish to the publication. Do they want finished art, or are they willing to take text you furnish and format it for you? If they want a finished product, you may need to get a graphic artist involved for layout and preparation purposes, which will add to the cost.

2. Get a written contract from your ad representative stipulating the publication conditions of your advertorials. Be sure you understand your deadline obligations.

3. Submit your advertorial to your ad representative in the agreed-upon format. Be sure to meet your deadlines! If a photo will run with the article, and you are not supplying finished art, submit it now.

4. If the publication is putting the ad together for you, ask your ad representative for a typeset proof layout copy of your advertorial. This is your chance to check for errors before it is published. Remember, with an advertorial, you are paying to have your message published. Make sure that things are the way you want them to be before publication.




Ask the Computer Expert “Does it make a difference where I buy my computers?” By: [Your name] Although it may seem at first that a computer is a computer is a computer, the truth is they are still very complex machines full of nuances and quirks. Which means at some point you will need some sort of technical support. That’s the point where you made the purchase will make a huge difference. There are two broad categories of sales outlets for computers: mass merchandisers and local computer resellers. Mass merchandisers include “big box” electronics stores, computer superstores, warehouse clubs, office supply stores, department stores, mail order firms, department stores, and appliance stores. Their focus is generally on selling equipment; they may or may not offer after-sales service. Computer resellers are local companies with expertise in design, installation, maintenance and service of technology products; the hardware and software itself is a small part of their business. These sales outlets provide different levels of product choice and technical support for customers, so consider your own needs carefully before you buy. Realistically assess your own level of technical ability and how much time you are willing to devote to maintenance. What software applications will you run? Will you be setting up a full network with clients and servers? How much can you spend? How much do you really know about computers? As with most things in life, computer purchasing is a series of trade-offs, and the right selection of sales outlet can help you balance those choices. If you work in a home office, or an office with two or three people, your technology needs are probably fairly simple. If you have a good understanding of technology and have the time to perform your own service, you can usually save money by going to a mass merchandiser Some have knowledgeable salespeople who can help you pick out the products you need. If you require tech support to set it up, however, you will either need to pay for it in addition to the products or contact the manufacturer’s support center. If problems crop up beyond your capabilities later on, you will also need to find someone to help you. You may want to set up a contract so you have someone “on-call” as-needed.

d e l i ve r i n g yo u r sto r y | “a s k t h e co m p u te r ex p e r t s ” to p i c s

Local resellers often charge a little more for the products, but they also offer a variety of value-added services that help you save time and money in the long run. These reseller services can include training, consulting, and system design. If you require a full-function network, use complex applications (such as an online store or CRM software) to operate your business, or have a “virtual” office rather than one central location, a reseller is the right choice. They are also more likely to service your products on-site rather than making you bring the products to them. When comparing prices, make sure you understand what product support services are bundled with each computer purchase—different resellers may have a different “mix” of services they provide. One indication of service orientation is the CompTIA A+ Authorized Service Center™ medallion. This designation is awarded by CompTIA, the Computing Technology Industry Association™, and is recommended by the Better Business Bureau as one way in which computer users may gauge the reseller’s commitment to computer service quality. In order to achieve A+™ Certification, at least 50 percent of the reseller’s technicians must pass rigorous tests designed by CompTIA in conjunction with leading software and hardware manufacturers. To date, more than 180,000 technicians have become A+™ Certified and more than 1,800 firms have become A+ Authorized Service Centers. This certification assures you the sales outlet is serious about providing great service. So when shopping for a computer system, keep your own after-sales service needs in mind. Equipment installation, on-going technical support, and equipment maintenance are all issues that keep affecting your computing ease long after the initial purchase is past. [Your name] is the [your title] of [your company], located at [your address, phone number, Internet address].


• “How do I compare prices when shopping for a computer?” • “What exactly is a Value-Added Reseller?” • “What is needed to set up a network for five or more people?” • “How can I make sure my technology investments today will still be good two years from now?” • “What services can I expect from my computer retailer?” • “How do I care for my new computer?”



Using The CompTIA Marketing Tool Kit Brochure Brochures are one of the most

Your brochure should emphasize the strongest features of your

popular ways to build the

business. If you have a strong focus on after-sales service and

image of a business. They can

are an CompTIA A+ Authorized Service Center™, then stress

range from elaborate, multiple-

that. If you specialize in on-site service or integrated solutions

page, full-color documents

for business, focus on that. You should still operate from your

down to simple “tri-fold”

communications platform, and make sure your brochure sends

pieces – an 8½" x 11" piece of

the messages about your business that are consistent with your

paper folded twice. Brochures

other publicity efforts. Keep your brochure focused on the two

are the classic “leave-behind”

or three services that are the strength of our firm. Don’t ask your

of marketing communications.

brochure to do too much. For example, telling the whole history of your firm, explaining all your services, and introducing all your employees may be a lot of information for one, tri-fold piece of paper to carry. You may want to consider creating a folder with several one-page sheets that tell those separate stories instead.

Consider what you want the brochure to accomplish. Think carefully about how you will use it. Will a salesperson personally leave it with a prospective customer after a meeting, or will you use it as a direct-mail piece? These are two different functions. In the first instance, you are using the brochure to solidify an image and reinforce the messages sent during the personal sales call. The brochure is a supporting piece. In the direct-mail situation, the brochure is the sales call; it introduces your firm and tries to create a message, not merely reinforce one.

u s i n g t h e co m p T I A b ro c h u re

Here are some suggestions of what to include in your brochure:

• A short history of your business including the background/experience of senior level management.

• • • • • •

A list and short explanation/description of services/products you offer. Quotes from previous satisfied customers. Company mission statement. Store/office hours (including branch offices). Full contact information and directions to store/office location(s). Awards or recognition you have received.

If you are a CompTIA A+ Authorized Service Center™, you can include the following paragraph in your brochure: [Your company] is a CompTIA A+ Authorized Service Center™, a designation the Better Business Bureau recommends consumers use to determine a member’s level of commitment to computer service quality. To date, more than 180,000 technicians have become CompTIA A+™ Certified and more than 1,800 firms have become CompTIA A+ Authorized Service Centers™. The designation is awarded by CompTIA, the Computing Technology Industry Association™, the voice of the world’s $3 trillion information technology industry. CompTIA membership extends into more than 100 countries and includes companies at the forefront of innovation; the channel partners and solution providers they rely on to bring their products to market; and the professionals responsible for maximizing the benefits organizations receive from their technology investments.



(Use this paragraph if you are not a CompTIA A+ Authorized Service Center) [Your Company], an established dealer of computers, software and peripherals, is a member of CompTIA, the Computing Technology Industry Association™, the voice of the world’s $3 trillion information technology industry. CompTIA membership extends into more than 100 countries and includes companies at the forefront of innovation; the channel partners and solution providers they rely on to bring their products to market; and the professionals responsible for maximizing the benefits organizations receive from their technology investments.


You can design and print the brochure yourself if you have the proper equipment and an eye for graphics. Otherwise, you’ll need to engage a full-service graphics or marketing firm. Remember that your brochure will give customers and prospects an impression of your company by the way it looks, reads, and feels. You want to be sure that impression is a good one. It may be a very wise investment to have your brochure produced by a professional firm, especially if your skills tend more to the technical side. Once the copy and layout are approved, printing is the last phase of your brochure production. Simple tri-fold or single-sheet brochures can be self-printed on a highquality laser or inkjet printer. You should use high-quality paper (rather than typical all-purpose copier/printer paper) to give it a better look. More elaborate pieces should be produced on a professional printing press. Included in this section is a sample “SPEC SHEET” that contains the typical information that a printer needs to know in order to produce your brochure. After your service bureau or graphics firm has customized the brochure, you can either have them provide you with disks or upload the files to the printer’s FTP site. If you have never worked with a printer before, here are some things to keep in mind:

u s i n g t h e co m p T I A b ro c h u re | h ow to p ro d u ce yo u r b ro c h u re

• Paper There are varied types of paper stocks to choose from. Virtually any color, texture, and weight is available; the costs for these will vary. A bright white stock is typical. If you use the brochure for direct-mail, make sure the paper you select is rugged enough for that purpose, and that both the paper and the size meet U.S. Postal Service regulations.

• Quotes Get all quotes in writing. Make sure the quantities meet your needs. Remember that much of the cost is in the initial set-up for the print run. Two thousand copies will not cost twice as much as 1,000 copies. Typical price breaks come at 500; 1,000; 2,500; and 5,000 copies. Also, costs go up with the number of colors you use. One- and two-color pieces are printed on one type of press. If you use three colors it will go up to a four-color press; at that point it probably won’t cost much more to produce a full color brochure. Ask for quotes both ways.

• Overruns A printer may consider any order complete when 10 percent over or under the specified amount has been completed. The final invoice may reflect this difference, so discuss the printer’s overrun policy in advance.

• Shipping Printers do not always include this cost in their estimates, so be sure you know about this in advance.

• Gang Printing Sometimes you can save money on printing costs by allowing the printer to print your brochure at the same time, and on the same press, as others. You don’t get as much control over things like color – generally you have to accept however they set up the run. The tradeoff, however, may be getting a full color piece at a price well below the norm. If exact color matches aren’t important to you, gang printing is worth considering. One of the other benefits to using a graphics or marketing agency is they can handle all aspects of printing for you, from selecting paper stocks to managing the printing process. Just as the right reseller can make a computer installation work a lot smoother, the right agency can make the process of producing your brochure a lot more painless.





three-panel, self-mailing brochure




11" x 8½" flat/trim, 3⅔" x 8 ½" folded




2/2 (two over two), black and PANTONE™ *185 RED

Art: camera-ready on disk One halftone (illustration on front cover) provided tight registration, no bleeds Proofs: blueline (silverprint or dylux) Color proof (optional) Bindery: score (optional, depending on weight of stock) Fold Delivery: carton quantities Contact name/address *PANTONE™ is a registered trademark of Pantone, Inc.

u s i n g t h e co m p T I A b ro c h u re | s a m p l e p r i n t i n g s p e c s h e e t



Using An Ad Slick An ad slick is a camera-ready

Advertising is a paid form of

Consider the following steps when

advertisement sent to print

communication, but, unlike the

purchasing print advertising space:

publications. It can either be

advertorial, its purpose is more

1. Identify the best publications for your

on paper or in electronic form.

clear-cut. The ad broadcasts

message. As always, use your MEDIA RESOURCE GUIDE.

your business presence so that potential customers can use your services.

2. Call your media targets and ask to speak with an advertising sales representative.

3. Discuss what ad sizes are available such as full page, half page, or quarter page.

Publications have editorial

Rates will vary. Discuss what section of the

staffs and advertising staffs. To

and how often. These selections may have

place your ad slick, you’ll need to speak with an advertising

publication you want to appear in, when, different rates as well.

4. Weigh cost considerations. Smaller weekly

sales representative. This

papers and local magazines are usually

is a little different process

They may also target your audience better.

than pitching a story idea or offering to be a resource for a reporter. It’s also simpler, since paying to have the ad slick printed in the publication is a basic sales transaction.

less costly than larger daily newspapers. Be sure your ad will be appropriate to that publication.

using an ad slick

5. Get a written copy of your agreement. Find out what the publication’s policy is on errors. If a mistake occurs, the publication will typically rerun your ad without charge or refund some portion of your payment.

6. Personalize the ad slick, then send it to your sales representative’s attention. 7. Always check your ad when it runs! Check for errors. Make sure it runs on the day you specify. Also check the ad’s location in the publication and make sure it meets your specifications. Be ready to discuss any mistakes with your ad representative. Advertising departments at newspapers and magazines are good sources of information about reader demographics and buying habits. The larger the publications, the more of this information they will have. Don’t forget to coordinate your advertising, when possible, with publicity events.

SAMPLE AD SLICK COPY Technology change is swift. But computers aren’t your business, they’re your tools for business. With so many new technology products and places to buy them, how do you keep up? What is the right solution for your computing needs? Today, you need a smart partner to help you create successful solutions and manage technology change. That’s where we fit in. [Company name] specializes in forming partnerships with our customers to recommend computer solutions that are right for them. Call or visit. You’ll find a staff of computer experts who know how to listen, understand your needs, and cut through the clutter to a solution for your computing problems. Make the right connection today: [company name, address, telephone].



Building Your Web Site Your Web site is one of your

Start with an honest evaluation

most important business tools.

• Look at your current Web site. Does it look fresh and new, or tired and dated? • Look at your direct competitors, or other members you think do a good job. How does

As such, it is important that you get the most out of it. Following are some tips that will help guide you in building a site that works for both prospects and customers.

your site compare to them, both in looks and ease of navigation? Do you look like a market leader?

• Think about what people will look for when they come to your site. What do they most want to know? If you can look at your company through your customers’ and prospects’ eyes you’ll have a better idea of what your site should look like. Understand your goals

• Determine whether you want to sell customers directly from the site, or get them to contact you for more information.

• Decide if you want to feature products and services prominently or your company and its abilities/accomplishments. Create a budget

• Know how much you are willing to spend before you start designing. • Map out the number of pages you will need • Know whether the competitive landscape requires special, more expensive techniques such as Flash or video.

• Don’t forget hosting fees and maintenance costs.

If you decide to hire an outside firm, you should

• Get addresses of sites they have created. They should give you more than one and they should not look similar. Visit the sites on your own computer to get a feel for their ease-of-use.

• Meet the Webmaster in person. You or your employees may be spending considerable time with him/her and you will want to establish a rapport.

• Ask if they have designed Web sites for similar businesses. It’s useful if they understand what you do.

• Find out about site maintenance after you go on-line. • Get references! Ask other clients: Was the site completed on time and within budget? Are they satisfied with the site’s effectiveness? Would they use this consultant again?

b u i l d i n g yo u r we b s i te


Although the technical mechanics behind them are essentially the same, there is a vast difference in the effectiveness of various Web sites. Here are some things to keep in mind to make sure you maximize the return on your Web investment.

• Keep your home page clean and simple, and make it easy to navigate from there to the specific information visitors seek.

• If you’re going to use animation or video on your home page, be sure it will load in no more than 30 to 45 seconds.

• Use your keywords in page headings, and one to five times in the copy (depending on length). Search engine crawlers use these keywords to return search results; your use of them helps the crawlers know you have text relevant to those keywords.

• Be sure it’s easy for visitors to find the answers to these questions:

> What does your company do – what products and services do you offer?

> Who do you do it for – current customers?

> What makes you different/special/unique?

> Do you have examples/case studies of things you’ve done for others?

> What have others (i.e. customers and the press) said about you?

• Make it easy for visitors to find out how to contact your for more information. At the same time, don’t ask for a lot of information from them in return or you risk scaring them off. An option to provide you with an e-mail or phone number is all you need to start the relationship.

• Avoid making your site too cumbersome. Start simple, and then expand it out as you find a need. Tracking visitor traffic via a Web analytics program will show you which pages are important to visitors – and which are not.

• Review your service level agreement with your hosting provider at least once a year, and hold them to the standards set there. In today’s world, you can’t afford not to be visible on the Web.

• Include a site map. When Google (and other search engines) crawl the Web, a site map helps confirm that the pages on your site relate to your keywords.

• Include a privacy statement. Privacy is a huge concern, especially on e-commerce sites or any that ask for contact information, so let visitors know what your policy is.




With thousands of Web sites being created everyday, it is easy for your site to get lost in cyberspace. The key to having a successful Web site is not just creating it, but promoting it aggressively. In other words, you need to make it easy to find both for customers and prospects who know you and those who don’t. Having an intuitive URL is a start. That will help the people who are already familiar with your company find you. Following are some ideas for the rest. search engines In virtually every survey, online search through a search engine is the top way both consumers and business people find new products, services, and partners. Google, of course, is the 800 lb. gorilla in that space, but there are many other search engines in use as well. Most search engines are constantly crawling the Web and adding new sites to their search indexes. If you want to enhance your chances of being listed with search engines (making your site easier to find), you can register your site’s address with each engine. Some of the most popular are: Google ( Yahoo! ( Ask ( AOL Netfind ( HotBot ( Alta Vista ( Gigablast ( LookSmart ( Lycos ( MSN ( Netscape ( WebCrawler ( Dogpile ( Each search engine should have a mechanism you can use to register/submit your site address. This may take some searching on your own since most rely primarily on automated “bots” to find and index sites. If you do choose to submit your site manually, make sure you take the time to read the directions carefully. Search engines receive thousands of submissions a day. If you do not follow their directions, they will not list your site.

b u i l d i n g yo u r we b s i te | i f yo u b u i l d a n d p ro m o te i t

Periodically you will want to perform a search using your company’s name and your most important keywords to how early your site appears in the results. You should do this on several search engines. You can also enter your Web address on to get traffic statistics and see where you rank on the Web. You should register the site there for best results. If you are not showing up in the first two pages on a Web search, there are dozens of tactics you can employ, as well as a software and services you can purchase, to achieve higher rankings with search engines. Search the Web or your local bookstore using the term search engine optimization (SEO) for more information on working with search engines. displaying the site address Display your Web site address on every marketing material you generate. This includes stationary, business cards, brochures, in-store displays, as well as your news releases, media alerts, bylined articles, advertorials, ads, etc. Paid ads Adwords (sponsored links) Link trading Google (improved) search ratings




Blogging has become one of the fastest and least expensive ways for individuals to establish their knowledge/credentials as an expert. Having a blog allows you the opportunity to offer your thoughts, opinions, and experience on a variety of topics. It also provides a way to connect with prospects and customers on a personal, oneto-one level through visitor comments. The key to blogging is simplicity. You don’t have to be a prolific writer. If you can send an e-mail, you can create and maintain a blog. The “blogosphere” generally prefers short, frequent posts over lengthy, involved ones. Possible topics for your blog are:

• Your thoughts on a new product from a vendor • A new discovery you made about a particular technology • Results of an installation at a customer location A comment on an announcement from a technology supplier

• A link to good information you read somewhere else If you can be entertaining, or you’re not afraid to be controversial, you can help drive more traffic to the blog. The important thing is to be genuine. Give your true thoughts and feelings; if you don’t want to make those public on a particular topic, then don’t blog on it. There are several services that will allow you to establish your blog for little or no money. Among them are:

• • • •

Blogger ( Wordpress ( Typepad ( GoDaddy (

Before you start your own blog, you may want to first go out to other blogs that cover the same subject matter you want to cover and add comments to the posts there. It’s a good way to ease into it (and find out if it’s for you). It’s also a good way to start building your own visibility, as readers of that blog are potentially your readers as well.

b u i l d i n g yo u r we b s i te | b e co m e a n i n st a n t o n l i n e ex p e r t

When you’re ready to start your own, simply sign up for an account, select a clever name for your blog, and begin blogging. The free version will generally provide a limited number of templates and tools for you to use. If you want more options, such as a fancier design or the ability to track traffic on your posts, you will need to upgrade to the paid version. Your best bet is to start simply, then add to it as you go along. Also, be sure to include a link from your Web site to the blog, and vice versa. The more interchanging you can do the better. Continue posting at other blogs, but this time with a reference to your own. Register your blog with sites such as Technorati and Feedburner, and add buttons or links to services such as Digg and All of these will help your blog reach a wider audience. One final word: the blog doesn’t have to rest solely on one person’s shoulders. Blogging services often allow multiple authors on a single blog. Get all your key people involved and let customers and prospects really get to know the company.




Another way to personalize your communications and enhance your Web site is through the use of podcasts. Think of them as mini radio broadcasts that you control. If you’re comfortable in front of a microphone and have something to say, podcasts (sound-only) and vidcasts (sight and sound) can again help you establish your expertise. To get started, you will most likely need to purchase a microphone, recorder, editing software and audio mixer of some sort. There are many podcast starter packages available that provide all the equipment you need. Before you begin creating your own podcasts, check out others to get the feel. Most technology publications include podcasts of some sort. You can also go to iTunes ( to hear podcasts on almost any subject imaginable. You will also want to do a couple of samples before you commit to posting your podcast so you can become familiar with the equipment and make sure you’re putting your best foot forward. Listen critically to your podcast when you do it. Ask yourself:

• Do I sound comfortable and relaxed, or nervous? The former makes you credible; the latter makes you sound like you’re trying to hide something.

• How is the pace? Does it sound rushed, or am I speaking conversationally? • You should sound as though you are speaking face-to-face to a customer or prospect. • Am I enunciating clearly? Many people are surprised to find they don’t speak as clearly as they think?

• Is my voice varying in tone, or is a droning monotone? You may be the world’s foremost authority on a topic, but if you’re boring to listen to people will tune out.

b u i l d i n g yo u r we b s i te | l e t yo u r vo i ce b e h e a rd

The more you can make your podcast sound like you’re enjoying the opportunity to speak on a topic you know well, the more likely people are to hear your message. Here are a few other considerations:

• Keep your podcast under five minutes in length, at least at the start. It’s easier to download, and easier to listen to at work.

• Add a little music at the beginning and end to create a little more excitement and distinguish your podcast. But don’t use copyrighted music, such as tunes from your favorite Van Halen CD. There is plenty of music available for download that does not violate copyright laws.

• Bring in guests from time to time. Having two people speaking is often livelier than a single person, no matter how good that person is.

• Make it available on your Web site, and at other sites as well. iTunes is one place to go. If you are using video, sites like YouTube will allow you to upload your vidcast for free.



Publicity Links: Integrating Merchandising And Marketing Communications The successful placement of

Each media event or contact

a few press releases does not

should dovetail with another;

make a successful Marketing

and all your communications

Communications campaign.

should support your broad business goals. This section will pull the individual pieces


Interviews should be big

news. If the interview is on a broadcast outlet, send e-mails to customers and prospects to let them know when you will be appearing. Let your suppliers know about your interview as well, especially if you will be mentioning them. Once the interview has appeared either on broadcast, the Internet, or in print, let customers and prospects know where they can

addressed so far in the

see it. Post a summary on your Web site, along

CompTIA Marketing Tool

as a handout.

Kit together into suggested

with a link to the article. Save a copy and use it

Bylined Articles

Get copies of the

campaign “tactics.” Then,

publication where the article appears and send

suggestions on how to

them to customers and prospects. If it’s online,

integrate merchandising

information if a product or service was cited in

e-mail a link to them. Include product

efforts with your tactics will

your article. Have copies of the article

be offered. Remember, these

reprints as leave-behinds on outside sales calls.

are only suggestions – mix and match tactics to achieve your own individual goals.

prominently displayed in your office. Use Your tactic here is to keep the story alive long past the publication where it originally appeared. The day the article appears should be the beginning, not the end, of your merchandising efforts.

publicity links

News Releases and Media Alerts

Something must be happening or you

wouldn’t be notifying everyone! Contact existing and potential customers directly about these events. Use your home page and/or e-mail to contact these groups. If your news is about a new product, offer demonstrations. If it’s about new software, tout any training programs or seminars you offer. If your news is about a new office or an expansion, throw a party and run a raffle. Make equipment or training donations for charity. Your tactic here is to surround your event with as much excitement as possible. The more activity that whirls around an event, the bigger “news” story it becomes. The Internet

If and when you establish a blog or regular podcast,

announce it using traditional media contact pieces such as press releases. . In fact, anything you do on the Internet should be promoted through traditional media; and anything you do in print or broadcast media should be promoted on your Web site. The two venues, the Internet and traditional media, are not mutually exclusive. The Internet also offers opportunities to create links to the home pages of your suppliers. You can benefit from their marketing muscle and information while they benefit from your targeted, localized promotional efforts. Your tactic here is to integrate all your communications into a cohesive set of messages, regardless of the type . of media you use. The whole point of integration is to get maximum publicity from each media piece by multiplying its effect many times. Your objective is to be in front of your customer’s eyes and ears as much as possible. You want a dynamic image that embraces high-service, high-quality, and full value-added benefits that only a professional computer reseller can offer. As always, you want to stand apart from the crowd. Integrating your communications and merchandising offers a powerful way to achieve that effect.



Evaluating The Effectiveness Of Your Communications Campaign It can be difficult to know

• A press release

Find out when the customer learned

what effect your Marketing

• A bylined article

about your company or service.

Communications Campaign has

• An advertorial

until they need it. A bylined article that

had unless you have a method

• A brochure

ran two months ago may be the reason

for evaluation. Increased sales

• An interview

lose track of what communications

or Web traffic may not be a

• A news story

you have run and when. The efficiency

clear enough indicator. Every

• A referral from an existing

will only become clear over time. Buy

new customer should be asked

customer or friend

how they heard about your

• An advertisement

company or service. Specifically,

• The Internet

Sometimes, people will store information

someone contacts you today. Don’t

and effectiveness of your campaign a special calendar and dedicate it to tracking the dates and publications of your publicity efforts. That way you can match actual sales performance to communications events. However,

you want to know if they heard

don’t expect to see exact relationships,

of you from:

since Marketing Communications have a cumulative effect. Your business image and communications platform will need some time to get established in the public mind.

eva l u a t i n g t h e e f fe c t i ve n e ss o f yo u r c a m p a i g n

Two exceptions to that rule are direct mail and Web hits coming off of outside links. Both are easy to track with the right tools (such as a Web analytics application), and can provide valuable information on which campaigns or story subjects are working best for you. As the evaluation process continues, make sure you return to your MEDIA RESOURCE GUIDE and update it as necessary. Expect some of your contacts to change. Compare closely the relative costs of one media over another. If your new customers were referred, or didn’t seem to encounter your firm through your communications efforts, do a little off-the-cuff market research and find out where they go for technology information. If you don’t have a mailing list of customers, create one and keep it current. Finally, don’t hesitate to ask your own customers for advice. Ask them what they are reading or watching. Have their habits changed? This is also a great excuse, in case you need one, to keep in constant contact with your established customers. Remember, just as your customers depend on you for technology solutions, you can depend on them for marketing solutions! That’s a partnership in every sense of the word.



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An overall Marketing Toolkit  

an ebook by Continuum

An overall Marketing Toolkit  

an ebook by Continuum