Publicity is an important tool for your small biz marketing arsenal. Publicity and public relations are used by everyone from stars to global companies to small mom and pop businesses. Essentially the goal of a publicity or PR (public relations) campaign is to generate news stories by various media. Most hope these news stories will be positive, but negative publicity works, too. Unfriendly press has helped many of today’s popular celebrities (Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan) gain fame and fortune.
How can the small or home-based business hope to compete for press coverage? Why even bother trying a publicity campaign? Well, not every news story is about the latest Hollywood scandal, thankfully. Reporters are charged with finding new and interesting stories everyday to bring to their readers/watchers/listeners. Also, media has changed considerably lately, and with the advent of podcasting, videocasting, blogging and other internet means, anyone can produce stories.
When creating your marketing plans, schedule publicity right along with your other promotional actions. Try to have a regular program of events and activities that you can use for publicity.
For example, if you sell home decorating items, you can easily do holiday promotions and tie your publicity to those same promos. You could have a Halloween decorating contest in October with prizes from your inventory for the winner. And, perhaps a drawing for an Easter centerpiece. Or, a contest to guess how many tealight candles you have in a large container. Or, you can sponsor a charity drive to refurnish a nursing home common area and donate some wall art from your inventory.
Once you have your PR events determined, the next step is to spread the word. The most basic tool for a publicity campaign is the press release or news release. (For a quick lesson, read my article How to Write a Press Release). Using the proper formatting for a release will lend much more credibility to your story, making it much more likely to get read and perhaps make it into the news. Be sure to post your news releases on your own website and blogs, too.
You will also need a media list for your area and topic. It is fairly easy to find out who the editors and reporters are in local newspapers. You can just pick up the phone and call the paper and ask them who should receive your press release. Do the same for any radio stations, magazines, television stations and even shopper’s guides and popular newsletters. Sometimes, you can also find this information online.
Do not expect your press releases to be immediately picked up and published. You will be competing with others for the same news attention and sometimes, there are better stories out there! If you send a few and there is no response, try calling the reporters to chat about how you can improve your odds. Perhaps you need to be a bit more “newsy” or perhaps you have the wrong contact. As long as you are nice, most people will try to help you.
Publicity and public relations can really help you to market your small or home based business without spending thousands of dollars on expensive, often ineffective advertising programs. Start your campaigns and increase your earnings now!
Small business owners and entrepreneurs can get thousands of dollars in free publicity by following the tips, tricks and tools, courtesy of Joan Stewart, The Publicity Hound®. She's a former newspaper editor, a small business owner AND she was tapped by Entrepreneur.com as its public relations expert. Click here to read all the columns she wrote for Entrepreneur.com and check out her educational tools for small business owners.