How to …

When I was in PR and developing plans for a wide variety of companies I found a good chunk of the proactive marketing created was centered around a single concept — the “how to.”

When I worked with Gymboree one of our seasonal marketing outreach programs consisted of:

— A video news release that was all about “How to Pack for a Family When on Vacation.” We hired an expert on packing and developed a news piece where she gave tips to viewers on how to keep the headaches to a minimum on a family vacation by packing smartly.

— A satellite media tour with the same expert. Basically we booked her on as many morning television shows as possible and via satellite, she conducted interviews with local newscasters giving tips on how to “pack without becoming a pack mule for your family.”

— A matte release that was in essence the same story but written in a news article style. It was put on a wire service for newspapers who needed help filling their paper with relevant stories for their readers.

When I worked with Amazon, our holiday pitch was focused on “how to budget for the holidays.” We looked at a number of budget experts, e.g., Suze Orman (note: this was before she had a TV show and her rates were much more reasonable then) and then after choosing had her do a similar bit to the Gymboree one (SMTVNR, etc.).

For JELD-WEN, the window and door company we wrote a bevy of different stories for editorial consideration from”how to chose the right windows,” and “understanding different door materials,” to “how a door can increase your home’s value” and “beautifying your home with wood.”

It’s funny, after transitioning to the “other side,” I find myself developing eerily similar pitches to when I was in PR.

So much of what we read are essentially a “how to” pieces.

It may seem like a simpleton marketing strategy, and many writers may “poo-poo” the idea of writing these but at the end of the day — it may very well pay to master the “how to.”