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Publicity Payoffs

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Here are five cost-effective ways to put your company on the map—and add to your bottom line. Don’t have the funds to hire a PR or marketing firm to promote your small business? No problem. It is possible to grow your business quickly and cost-effectively with a few low-hassle PR efforts you can make yourself. “Leveraging the power of the press is a key tool for all entrepreneurs,” says Andrew Field, president and founder of printingforless, a commercial printing company. “When your organization receives media mentions, you gain valuable third-party credibility and coverage you simply can’t purchase with advertising dolla


Here’s how to get started promoting your company:


1. Pursue top venues.



When you begin your publicity efforts, think big. While it’s a good idea to start at the local level, don’t stop there. If you dream of a feature story in the New York Times or Wall Street Journal, or being a guest on Oprah, go for it! Many top media venues want unique stories from new entrepreneurs, and you may have just what they’re looking for. If you’re going to spend time pitching your company, you might as well go for the gold.


2. Pick up the phone.



Research pertinent media members online and develop an interesting story idea for each person on your list. Editors are much more responsive when it’s clear you’ve done your research and know what they’re looking for, rather than reaching out to them through a mass e-mail that may or may not meet their needs. “Be remarkable,” says Andy Sernovitz, marketing expert and author of Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking (Kaplan, 2006). “And if your story is unique, valuable and backed into your overall brand, media members and the public will be interested in what you have to say.”



Once you have your story idea ready, call the editor or reporter directly. E-mail is a great tool, but writers and editors get inundated with hundreds of pitches each week, so a call—at least to follow up after sending an e-mail query—is more likely to get you noticed. Introduce yourself and give a succinct pitch. Even if you get rejected, you’ve started a beneficial relationship for future opportunities. Follow up regularly with press people you’ve connected with. You may not be right for the stories they’re working on this month, but next month you might be the source they’re looking for.



3. Provide media-friendly content.



Make it easy for reporters to get the information they need fast. Add a user-friendly newsroom to your company website, including: a media kit, press releases, press mentions you’ve already received, downloadable photos, bios of you and your top people, contact information and other pertinent information you think a writer might want to know. To get an idea of what reporters want online, review competitor websites and those of successful businesses you admire. After all, if your competitors have this information posted and you don’t, who will reporters be more likely to quote with a looming deadline?


4. Create partnerships.


Consider collaborating with a charity or well-known business on various events to gain media exposure and credibility. You’ll share contacts and costs while increasing results and dividing work efforts in half. And you’ll be helping your community while meeting potential clients and, hopefully, reporters who come to cover the event.


5. Network.


Get the word out about your business by getting out of the office. Attend events and try to book speaking engagements with women’s or business organizations where you’ll meet potential affiliates, customers and investors. Plus, you may be quoted by a media member in attendance.


This article was written by Melanie Rembrandt, an experienced publicist and the author of 7 Simple Steps to Startup PR Success. She helps entrepreneurs increase awareness and sales through her business, Rembrandt Communications.



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