In yesterday’s ezine, The Publicity Hound’s Tips of the Week, I wrote about how Publicity Hounds should rely on weekly newspapers more than ever, now that several dailies are eliminating their zoned editions because of mounting financial pressures.
It wasn’t until today that I remembered a fabulous article in the May/June 2000 issue of The Publicity Hound, my now-defunct print newsletter. Lovelace Lee III, a publicist from Los Angeles, wrote “Don’t Forget the Weeklies,” and explained how he relied on Black weekly newspapers as part of a national publicity campaign for one of his clients.
I’m reprinting the column here becauase it’s a great example of the power of not only mainstream weeklies, but special-interest weeklies. Those include ethnic, religious, educational, business, industry-specific and topic-specific newspapers. Here’s Lovelace’s article, in full:
Don’t Forget the Weeklies
By Lovelace Lee III
God bless the weekly newspaper! You can’t beat it for community news. I’ve used the weeklies to create affordable national publicity campaigns for my clients. And so can you.
In 1991, a young, Black honor student named LaTasha Harlins was killed in a scuffle with a Korean merchant in South Central Los Angeles. With the right spin, Black weeklies treated the update—a year later—as news.
My client was the now-defunct LaTasha Harlins Justice Committee. They needed to raise funds for a community center to be named after the slain teen.
Research of 10 major cities showed that most blacks really didn’t know the details of the LaTasha Harlins murder and editors of the weeklies were still curious. In 1992, I created the LaTasha Was Murdered Campaign to be released to Black weeklies across America.
I began the campaign with personal phone calls to editors of Black weeklies in 25 cities. I told them what I had and why it was important to their readers. The following week, I sent a release package that included a personal letter to the editor, a four-page news story, a black and white photo of campaign spokesperson and rapper Hot Shot wearing the “LaTasha Was Murdered” T-shirt and a page of Hot Shot’s quotes to support the article.
At the end of the release, I asked that editors send me two uncut, full-page tearsheets of the story as it appeared in their newsppaer. And for their support, I promised to send them their very own T-shirt. Of course, they were the first in their cities to have this coveted T-shirt. Crazy, huh?
Not really. Remember, I had already talked with these editors at my expense—a relationship had been established.
Within 10 days of the mailing, tearsheets started arriving from black weeklies all over the country. The campaign reaped press from 35 black weeklies, ADWEEK, two loal TV stations and Players, the international black men’s magazine. A hot rap group decided to assume fund-raising responsibilities for the community center and one of the members even wore the T-shirt in a music video.
Don’t forget the weeklies. A little time spent cultivating a relationship can be good for you and your business or your favorite cause.
Lovelace Lee III is a public relations veteran with over 20 years experience. He’s a screenwriter and author of the soon-to-be published book 501 Things Every black Person Should Know for a Richer & Fuller Life. He lives in Los Angeles He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 310-743-2855.
While you’re at it, don’t forget your local shoppers, those newspapers usually crammed with ads, that usually show up once a week. If they need editorial to fill it, make sure they have an article or photo from you.