exclamation-31206_640Getting visibility isn’t a zero-sum game.

Well, in a way it is, I suppose.  Your audience only has a limited amount of attention they can pay to the world, so you’re battling for that.

Once you have their attention, though, it’s a different thing.  Because you don’t just want passive eyeballs – you want their brain too.  You’d like to positively impact their emotions, memory, and associations.

Let’s suppose that your company helps out a great charitable cause.  First, you have to connect your audience to this event.  Charities can get quite good at obtaining visibility in the press, which works to your advantage.  But remember that readership for newspapers is declining, as is TV news viewership.  Do some more work to reach the people who can benefit from your message.

Second, you have to make a connection between your company and the cause.  This can be as simple as a visible banner, but that’s pretty passive.  How about a speaking opportunity, a TV clip, a YouTube video sent out on Twitter?

And third, you have to create a memorable and positive connection.  This is where involvement comes in – of your employees, your current customers, partners, and target customers.  When people like what they’re involved in, they talk about it.  They want to do it again.  They want to feel good about it.

Kitten PuppyBut charitable events are the only way to build visibility.  Imagine that you own a small pet shop.  Who’s your target audience?  Obviously, pet owners – and people who are inclined to get a pet for themselves or a loved one.

Where do they hang out?  The super-serious ones might buy magazines or go to a dog show.  If you’d like to target them, these might be excellent venues.  More casual pet owners might be going to the rodeo or other animal-related event, or just friends with other pet owners at school.

How do you form a connection?  You could buy advertising, sure, but people can tend to be pretty cynical about all the ads they see.  Instead, look for what’s newsworthy and interesting.  Are there partners you could hook up with who are doing novel things?

Then look for ways to involve peoples’ energy and emotion.  Connect up with an activity, get people talking, and play an active role in what’s happening.

It goes much further than just getting visibility.