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By Ed Duffy

As both a marketing guy and a publisher of an online small business site, I often encourage businesses to take the time to periodically write and submit press releases about something new they're doing or offering at their company. One of the examples I use to demonstrate the value of doing so is the January 2011 announcement from Starbucks that they were creating a new larger, large; the Trenta.

Now you wouldn't think introducing a new larger cup would be Earth-shattering news, but it took the blogosphere and then major news outlets by storm. Over the next week or so, Starbucks got incalculable amounts of free publicity. Almost everyone with a TV, radio and/or Internet access was aware of the new offering, yet I can't recall seeing a single paid ad promoting it.

Well, they've done it again. This time it's a new, more expensive cup of coffee. The new "ultra-premium" brew costs a whopping $7/cup. Do a Google News search for "Starbucks $7" and you'll find page after page of more free publicity. Again, I've yet to see a paid ad for the $7 coffee. While it's true, many of the stories are critical of the high price point, they're maintaining a very high level of awareness for the brand. As a bonus, having a $7 cup of coffee on the menu may make folks who forgo it and get the $4.50 cup of coffee feel downright thrifty. They're saving $2.50!

Creating and maintaining brand awareness through regular press releases is a strategic part of the marketing plan for the biggest and most successful companies in the world. It's a great way to support all of your other marketing efforts. If you don't think that new piece of equipment you just bought, or the new line of product your offering is newsworthy, just ask yourself "Is this at least as interesting as a bigger cup or an expensive cup of coffee?" Odds are, it's worth the effort.