Select a personable toy consultant from the toy company staff and work with that person to develop interview story lines that fit the parental concerns-how to look for safety in toys or how to use them for furthering education at home.
Book interviews in advance, by telephone and by mail, stating that this toy expert will be in town for two or three days and is prepared to discuss and demonstrate toy topics and new toy developments. This technique capitalizes on the growing trend of local media to reach for national personalities in local settings to compete more successfully with the national media.
Upon arriving in a major city, the expert's itinerary is booked with interviews on television and radio talk shows, homemaker shows and listener call-in programs, as well as with the women's editors of newspapers and local columnists. Suggest in advance the types of questions that will generate interesting responses or add something to interpretations of current news, like what's happening in the consumer movement. Distribute a press kit including such items as a background corporate report on the toy company, a fact sheet, a description of new toy refinements, color transparencies for Sunday newspaper editions and other items to stimulate ideas.
Planned interview topics lead naturally to the use of toys to illustrate points. Show, for example, how the company goes to the extra expense to sew a bow on a doll instead of using a pin. Test marketing can also be adapted to this key market procedure.
Thus the general procedures of the profession may be used in marketing a particular product or service. One thing should be clear: selling a product involves a great deal of preparation, in advance and at the point of purchase.
There has never before been as wide a variety of areas in which one can play a key role as a public relations specialist.
Following is a partial list of the different areas in which a properly-trained professional can work as a public relations specialist: public affairs, community relations, public information, media relations, public opinion, government relations, political campaigns, consumer affairs, commercial business and research and statistics.
An Educated Populace
The public relations expert, as well as the producer of the product, must never underestimate the intelligence of the prospective consumer and should never talk or write down to her or him. With ever-larger percentages of Americans attending college, and graduating from high school, people have become too well informed to be significantly led astray.
Although watching television for hours at a time is regarded by many people as a waste of time, it is a proven method for receiving a large volume of information. Consequently, presenters of that huge dose of information must not, in any way, try to dupe the millions of people who watch their television sets from 40 to 60 hours each week. It simply won't work. People are becoming much more sophisticated through television.
Along with the increased educational level of millions of Americans came instantaneous radio and television communication. Through satellites, television allows people anywhere in the U.S. to see a war in Lebanon or a World Cup soccer match from anywhere in the world, as they occur. We only have to turn on our television sets to view history in progress.
If we happen to be away from our sets when an event occurs, video-cassette recorder owners can set their VCR's and have instant replay at their convenience. Soon, through satellites and cable television, we expect to be able to read major newspapers, not from the newsstand or as they are delivered to our houses, but on our television screens.
The main line of our business-the basic, fundamental reason for our existence-is to sell products and services.
That is where most of us so-called "pioneers" began. That is the skill that remains our primary one. And, despite the diversified bids for our attention over the years, we have made public relations a steadily more important force in the marketing process. We are business men and women who specialize in many areas, but in the final analysis, we are marketing people.
Public relations supplies welcome mats for the salesperson. One is more willing to open the door when the salesman who is knocking is bringing a product or service that is somewhat familiar and, suddenly, more interesting.
If a man has read an advisory column of the financial page about how insurance best fits into a retirement program and has turned to his wife and said, "This is the kind of policy we ought to have," he and she may be willing to send that direct mail postcard for a free pocket diary that they know will bring an insurance salesman along with it.
Public relations also generates increased impact at the point of purchase. When a retailer knows that a product he or she sells is going to be seen by hundreds of prospective customers on a local television show or read about in the newspapers, he is much more disposed to increase his inventory, to take advantage of co-operative advertising offers and to arrange more shelf space and better store displays.
Reprints of colorful newspaper and magazine features, which remind shoppers of an interesting idea they have seen-or which attract their attention if they haven't seen it before-make particularly good window posters and counter cards. Reprints are also useful as billing stuffers and direct mail pieces.
Many trade and some consumer magazines contain reply cards with which further information on items, publicized in the publication, may be requested. These cards can be keyed for return to salespersons and distributors.