Don't Sell in Your Press Release, Expert Urges

NEW YORK — Ads sell. Press releases tell. That was the advice publicity expert Paul Hartunian reminded members of the Direct Marketing Idea Exchange yesterday.

“Don't try to sell in your press release,” he said. “Let the media do the selling for you.”

Publicity is not a replacement for advertising, Hartunian said, though publicity is exceedingly powerful because it's cheap, predictable and measurable. He said it would cost him $10 to get a good campaign into the hands of 200 key media people nationwide.

“Publicity is not about ego,” he said. “It's about dollars in the bank.”

Publicity also offers instant credibility.

“If you're in the newspaper, you must be the expert,” said Hartunian, who got his claim to fame by selling pieces of the Brooklyn Bridge boardwalk for $14.95 apiece in 1983. “Publicity also is just downright good fun. How many people get a stretch limo to pick them up and take them to the radio station for an interview?”

Hartunian also sold pieces of seats from Yankee Stadium, ash from Mount St. Helens and suspender cable from the Golden Gate Bridge.

As to why companies don't use publicity more, he offered three reasons:

· People think they need great writing skills to submit something. “No. Anyone can do it,” he said.

· People think they need special contacts with the media.

· People wonder why the media would want to hear about their product. “You may not think it has value. You may be bored with your ad. Your customer doesn't think that.”

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