The term “guerrilla PR” invokes the scrappy tactics of stealthy combatants and a rough-around-the-edges approach to generating buzz around a communications campaign. Made even more relevant by Web 2.0 technologies, many of the most successful outreach initiatives now have a guerrilla component; after all, online communities and social networks are the ideal platform for “unconventional promotions [done] on a very low budget, relying on time, energy and imagination instead of big marketing budgets” (as defined by Jay Conrad Levinson in his book, Guerrilla Marketing).
The “low budget” aspect of guerrilla PR is especially attractive for communications executives who are feeling the crunch of the current economic downturn. This is the crux of a recently released book by Michael Levine, Guerrilla P.R. 2.0: Wage an Effective Publicity Campaign Without Going Broke (Collins, 2008). With this as a springboard, Levine offers the following dos and don’ts of guerrilla PR 2.0 in turbulent economic times.
HOW TO PRACTICE GUERRILLA PR
1. Also remember that talk is cheap, but e-mail is even cheaper: Send an e-mail blast to every news outlet and every prospective client you can. To do this successfully, Levine recommends “sending releases to arrive on slow news days, like the day after a major holiday, or the odd fifth week of the month.” Then, if you are announcing an event, provide a summary in the e-mail with the who, what, when, where information.
2. Pick up the phone: Making phone calls is much less expensive than paying for ads in magazines or on television. Phone every news outlet and prospective client you can.
HOW NOT TO PRACTICE GUERRILLA PR
1. Don’t be a pest: Editors, reporters and producers are always on deadline. If they say they can’t talk now, they can’t. Ask them the best way to follow up.
2. Don’t ever lie to the media: You might not want to tell the whole truth when your company is being cast in a negative light, but lying will always be discovered, and all that will be remembered is the lie. Use guerrilla PR to promote good news, not to minimize the impact of bad news.
3. Don’t over-e-mail: E-mail blasts are fine when you have something new to tell your list. If you don’t, keep in mind that spam isn’t just a spiced ham product.