Marketing for Small Business
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So you've started your own business and you're ready to let the world (or your neighborhood) know. Now it's time to add public relations to the list of your entrepreneurial skills.
Public relations is human relations and a critical aspect of growing your business. Everything you say and do is part of your PR campaign. It is the image you project every day to everyone you meet. It is about you and your company becoming a force in the public eye on a regular basis. PR that you undertake yourself can be a primary way to grow your business and become known without major expense.
There are seven basic steps involved in mounting your campaign.
Step #1 involves figuring out who you are, what you do and how to express it in the most succinct and interesting way possible. There may be situations such as networking functions where you have only 30 seconds to introduce yourself and make that all important first impression. Spend as much time as necessary practicing your "intro" until it truly flows in a positive, strong and confident manner. Remember that success begets success, and great first impressions will speak volumes about you and your business.
Now that you have developed the most effective message possible, Step #2 is to determine your "ooh-ahh" factor--the story about you. It's important to understand why you are news from the media's perspective, and how your products help people or your service gives value and benefit.
Once you know your ooh-ahh factor, you can begin to create materials that will tailor your story to the specific media, whose attention you wish to gain. And this leads to Step #3, which is to define your audience and create a media list.
Your list will, of course, be determined by the nature of your product or service; whether you are a local, national or international company; and on which markets you are focusing your growth. If you are a "local" trying to build a business in your community, then you will focus on local media. On the other hand, if you are pursuing national growth, you will want to check out major newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal, entrepreneurial publications such as Fortune or Inc., or gender specific magazines such as Good Housekeeping or Men's Health.
There are sources for purchasing media lists such as Bacon's in Chicago or the United Way. It's important to familiarize yourself with all the media you contact and to make preliminary phone calls to get the appropriate name for directing your release or media kit. Do an update at least every three months.
At Step #4, it is time to put together a press release--a simple three- or four-paragraph, one-page document that tells your story clearly. It must be unique to grab media attention fast. The first paragraph must contain the "catch" phrase to grab them quickly. It also should contain the who, what, when, where, why and how of your story, and begin with the city and state of origination. Techniques for grabbing attention include giving a statistic that shows their audience needs this information, which makes it relevant to current events or business news.
The second paragraph might consist of a quick biography or additional information, and the third should contain a quote from the highest source you can find. Sometimes the press will only use the first paragraph, so it must contain all the relevant information.
The press release should be done on your letterhead. On the top left-hand column, it should say "FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE"; the upper right-hand should show the "CONTACT" and give the name and phone number of your publicist (or yourself). Be absolutely sure it is 100 percent accurate in terms of grammar, facts, punctuation, spelling and names.
Step #5 will involve creating a media kit, which will include a copy of your press release(s) as well as other information. This is used to create the media's interest in doing a full story or inviting you appear on a TV or radio show. It should also include a company background piece or brochure, a pricing sheet, any press clippings (reproduced on your stationery) and any other public relations materials.
Grabbing attention is imperative so packaging is critical. It involves the careful selection of eye-catching colors for the folder as well as the contents. Quality says a lot so don't skimp.
Now that you've assembled your kit, it's time for Step #6, the all-important mailing. Presumably you have created your media list and have the appropriate names (correct spelling) and titles. Then comes the most critical part, the follow-up!
The phone may not ring, so it is up to you to make the calls. Start by saying, "hello, my name is. . ." and start your pitch within 10 seconds. Remember your hook and tell them in 30 seconds or less why you are news. A good rule of thumb on follow-up calls is within one week for national, within three to four days for local/regional, or within a day or two for email. You might want to create a one-page synopsis to use as a guide when you call, which should include who are you, why are you news, and how your product or service benefits people and gives value.
Step #7 is a series of seven reminders to help you create powerful publicity 365 days a year. If you follow these tips, you will be well on your way to capturing the media's attention:
Jill Lublin is the owner of Promising Promotion in Bel Marin Keys, Calif., a public relations agency serving individuals and corporations, and the author of the upcoming book, Guerrilla Publicity, part of the best selling Jay Conrad Levinson Guerrilla Marketing series. She can be reached by phone at (415) 883-5455, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on the web at www.promisingpromotion.com.