Contagious: Why Things Catch On author Jonah Berger began teaching a class called “Contagious” at Wharton several years ago. His premise was that whether you are in marking, politics, engineering or public health, you need to understand how to make your products and ideas catch on. People who couldn’t take the class would ask if there was a book they could read to catch up. Here it is.

He says people don’t listen to advertisements, they listen to their peers. But why do people talk about certain products and ideas more than others? Why are some stories and rumors more infectious? What makes online content go viral? Berger has spent a decade answering these questions.

In this book, Berger reveals what he believes is the secret science behind word-of-mouth and social transmission. It’s helpful that he shares successes and failures. Much of the content is common sense, but it is nicely and concisely presented.

When it comes to press (aka news) releases for trade shows, the focus is typically on new product announcements. Think about taking your company publicity efforts beyond IMTS and other shows in which you may participate, and commit to creating and distributing one news release each month. Going beyond the product launch, there are other press release topics worth considering.

“Breaking” News Release
It may not be a robbery or shooting, but the goal of using a press release to announce breaking news is to generate interest, coverage and exposure for your company. For example, if your company or an employee wins an award, or you have other some news about the company such as a revamped website, new social media presence, a partnership, or you do something positive that impacts the community you should create and distribute a news release.

Working with the trade media is like selling to anyone else.  It’s partly about having a good product (your information), part relationship-building and a lot about responsiveness.
 
Before you make your “sales call” know what is news, get to know your audience and be clear on what they are interested in. Read both print and online versions and learn what topics different editors or writers cover. Get to know the bloggers in your space. You may even want to develop a contact management system for your editorial “customers.”  

The post-Deepwater Horizon oil spill communications strategy will go on record as one of the biggest public relations blunders ever. What does this have to do with you? After all, you’re probably not in the oil drilling business. So, you may think, “we’re no BP – there’s no way we would ever be caught in a PR disaster.”

While your crisis may not capture the attention of media and world leaders everywhere, even small businesses can be negatively impacted by events that attract attention. With the proliferation of social media, this is even more probable.

Let’s imagine a few worst-case scenarios that can be very real for any company in any business:

Lots of emphasis gets placed on press releases announcing new products being introduced at a trade show. That’s well and fine, but there are many other topics that can put your company in the media spotlight long before your show new product releases are ready for distribution.

The real key is to think in far broader terms which can take your company publicity efforts beyond show focused new product announcements. A useful rule of thumb is to commit to creating and distributing one news release each month. This schedule keeps your company on the media radar and keeps the media and their readers current. To sustain this effort create a calendar and begin to schedule some topics that come to mind. As you brainstorm topics, it is important to make certain each one is informational, timely and interesting enough to your audiences to be reported upon.

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