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Getting Free Publicity for Your Business

January 14, 2016
(Reading time: 2 - 4 minutes)

You want the world to know about your business so I can get as many customers as possible. The best way to do that is by buying ads, right?

Well, maybe. But if you rely solely on advertising, you’re missing out on a key element of business promotion. Welcome to the world of public relations. Public relations is more cost-effective than advertising because instead of paying to have your business included in publications or on websites, you’re getting the publication or website to feature your business in their content. As Entrepreneur points out, this kind of publicity can last longer and possibly reach a much larger audience than advertising alone.

I can tell you’re excited to get started! Go chug another mug of coffee and we’ll get started.

  1. Have a target

    Figure out who you are trying to reach. Make it very specific, like “I’m targeting females in their 30s who enjoy organic vegetable gardening.” That won’t work if you sell men’s apparel, but if you are in the garden supply trade then you’re on the right track. Once you have that target audience, figure out which media outlets would best reach that audience.

  2. Know your angle

    No media outlet is going to publish a purely promotional business write-up without an angle. That is called advertising, and if they start giving that away for free then they won’t be a media outlet for long. You need to develop an angle that will help the media outlet provide information to their readers/viewers.

    There are many ways to find your angle. You can connect with a beat reporter and let them know that you are an expert in your field and would be open to providing insights when needed. You can let media outlets know when you are doing something charitable in the name of your business. When a new or updated product hits the market, let media outlets know why readers/viewers should know.

    Here are a few sites that have great ideas to get you started:

  3. Connect with the media

    A good working relationship with your local media outlets will serve you well. Having worked at several daily newspapers, I can tell you that editors love local businesses who want to help them fill that content area. In order to do that, you can’t fall to the temptation of being overly promotional. Readers will find more credibility in hearing about your product or service in the words of the reporter rather than what is obviously a press release from your business.

    Here are a few tips to get on an editor’s good side:

    • Keep it simple. Don’t wax poetic about your business. Keep sentences and paragraphs short and to the point. Stick to the topic at hand. Add quotes to share opinions.
    • Write in news format. This isn’t as intimidating as it seems. It simply means putting the most important piece of information first, then supporting it with a few key details and quotes. Put follow-up (call to action) information at the end.
    • Include photos. An editor will love you if they don’t have to assign a photographer to get art for your write-up. Bonus points if you give them a few options (such as one photo of just the product, one photo of a person using the product). Don’t use stock photography; use real, local people.
  4. Follow up

    If the media outlet chose to publish your press release, follow up and thank them for the coverage. Ask them if they are interested in getting more content from your business. It is possible that you could set up a guest blogger arrangement, or be the go-to expert when reporters need more information.

    If the media outlet chose not to publish your press release, send them an email asking how you can make your press releases more helpful for them. I recommend emailing reporters and editors because it is less intimidating for them than being put on the spot by someone who didn’t get what they want. Keep it very cordial and very cooperative. Odds are even if your current publicity piece wasn’t used, they will remember how helpful you were and keep you in mind when something else comes up in the future.

Written by:  |  January 14, 2016