What are your small business public relations issues?

PRProPRPro Posts: 25subscriber
edited June 2006 in Public Relations
Hi,
As you start a new business, what are the major issues you face in getting the publicity you deserve? As an entrepreneur myself, I know that time and money are always major issues, but I`m interested in discovering the kinds of problems you are facing. What are your thoughts on this?
Thanks, and have a great day!
Melanie
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Comments

  • LogoMotivesLogoMotives Posts: 15subscriber
    Melanie -Coming from a PR family - my father was PR director of a state government agency, my mother was in PR for the banking industry, and my sister has her own PR/advertising agency - I was very much aware of the publicity and promotion challenges to be tackled, especially as a small business attempting to establish a reputation. Time and money were not major issues at all.  I knew it was necessary to set aside the time to invest in PR efforts - even when I was at my busiest.  Money was not going to be issue as I was not going to budgeting a lot  for publicity.  My mother had taught me years ago that when it comes to PR one of the primary tactics is "why pay for something that you can get for free."I had been in the design industry for nearly 20 years when I finally adopted the name Jeff Fisher LogoMotives in 1997.  Although I had had used the press release with moderate results for nearly 10 years, it was now time to get serious about the challenge of publication editors taking me seriously in reintroducing myself as a newly named small business.  My college studies in journalism, advertising and public relations came in very handy as I could prepare my own marketing materials and press releases.  Had this not been the case, being surrounded by PR professionals, I certainly would have given serious consideration to calling in someone who knew what they were doing.Armed with my new identity, the press release heading "Toot! Toot!" and the press release tagline "If I don`t "toot!" my own horn, no one else will," I began sending out newsworthy press releases via snail mail on a regular basis.  Those three elements set my business apart from the masses and editors began calling and publishing my news - often commenting about the fact that my "Toot! Toot!" initially got their attention.  Within six months one of the two local business newspapers did a small feature on my business.  That following fall the major newspaper in the state published a feature about me.  The challenge of establishing relationships with editors had been met.  A steady stream of media mentions has followed over the years (yes, like everyone else I have difficulty keeping my site updated), resulting in many clients coming my way, a book contract, inclusion in many books as a resource, speaking engagements, requests to write articles, being named to the editorial board of a major design publication, and more.  A client of mine, who owns a marketing and public relations firm, always cusses me under his breath because I am often able to get more press for myself than he can get for his own clients.When the statewide newspaper, The Oregonian, interviewed me on a Thursday in 1998, I was asked if I had a web site as a reference for readers of the article.  Not wanting to miss an opportunity, I did what any media savvy business person would do - I lied!  (Luckily I had a potential URL registered) My partner, a friend and one of the friend`s employees then spent three days/nights getting my web site up and running.  When the article came out in the Monday paper I had a complete web presence - and the editor had cut the contact info out of the newspaper article.  Still, if readers searched for me on the Internet they could find me.With being online, I began to use email to distribute my press releases.  One of the things I quickly learned is that many of my established media contacts preferred getting a hard copy press release in traditional snail mail.  Again, it set my promotion efforts apart from the increasing number of email releases being received by a given editor. The additional use of online press release distribution sites, such a PRWeb and PRLeap, has given an international presence to my promotion efforts.  These days, my blog - bLog-oMotives - has become an incredible tool in positioning my business for publicity.  The blog gives me complete control over a PR vehicle, with a global presence, that I am able to refer others to as an immediate resource for quotes, information and story ideas.About half of my "day off" each Friday is spent maintaining those publicity contacts and seeking new sources.  I`ve dealt with some editors/writers for over a decade now - through career moves to new publications for many. It`s not unusual for me to call an editor to just say "hi," send off an occasional personal email, or ask an editor out for coffee.  When I attend industry conferences I always make time to meet with industry publication editors in person.  I`ve learned that it is important to drop everything when a member of the media contacts me for input or an interview. Having media kits prepared to immediately send out by mail or overnight delivery is a valuable and time-saving tactic. Taking that time to meet the request of a media contact may be much more valuable than any other form of marketing and promotion.  Doing so has created a situation where my business, and my expertise, is given the same media weight as the "big boys" in my industry. Such recent requests have involved an interview request with Fortune Magazine, an interview with a Wall Street Journal reporter (which has yet to result in an article - but a relationship has been established), article requests from magazines in Turkey and Russia, and a request this morning for examples of my work to appear in a Chinese book. One of the most important elements of establishing and maintaining relationships with editors and writers is always sending out a handwritten thank you note after an interview and/or inclusion in an article or book.When it comes to promotion and marketing efforts I always challenge myself to see how little money I can spend in getting publicity - rather than being concerned about how much specific efforts may cost.  By using my own tried-and-true methods I have overcome the challenge of publicity providers taking a one-person, home-based business seriously. - J.
  • PRProPRPro Posts: 25subscriber
    Hi Jeff,
    Thanks for your input. I`m glad to see you have done so well with your PR and marketing efforts. I wish that all small business owners shared your attitude when it comes to publicity. Many new entrepreneurs that I talk to think it is going to cost a lot of time, money and effort to get noticed by the press. But they don`t realize that they can get good publicity just like big organizations - without hiring a huge, PR agency.
    I am interested in finding out the specific problems small business owners face today in obtaining publicity with their grassroots efforts so if anyone has additional comments, please let me know. 
    Thanks, and have a great day!
    Melanie
  • LogoMotivesLogoMotives Posts: 15subscriber
    I wish that all small business owners shared your attitude when it comes to publicity. Many new entrepreneurs that I talk to think it is going to cost a lot of time, money and effort to get noticed by the press. But they don`t realize that they can get good publicity just like big organizations - without hiring a huge, PR agency.Melanie -Thanks for your feedback.The most frequent comment I get from startup owners (and about 75% of my business is from such companies) in regards to PR is "Well, I sent out a press release and no one published the information or contacted me."The operative word in that statement is "a."  Just as one print ad seldom has customers pounding on a new business` door, one press release may not produce the desired results.  New business owners don`t seem to give much consideration to the relationship aspect of working with the media. The other major issue is that if a business owner doesn`t feel confident in writing their own press release they should not do so.  I`m always happy to refer my clients to an independent PR professional who has valuable media contact relationships in place and knows what they are doing. - J.
  • PRProPRPro Posts: 25subscriber
    Hi Jeff,
    Very good words of wisdom.  
    Melanie
  • stevesteve Posts: 14subscriber
    One thing I believe would be helpful is to see some real examples of
    press releases; good, bad and ugly. Along with the example press
    release it would be good to have some commentary on what makes it good
    or bad. 
  • PRProPRPro Posts: 25subscriber
    Hi Steve,
    Thank you so much for your post. There is an article on StartupNation about this at -strategy.asp that may be of some help.
    Most press releases that I see are too long and wordy. Basically, you need to stress the benefits, why you are unique and get to the point quickly.
    Headlines are extremely important too because sometimes that is all that media members see. My suggestion would be to go to the sites of successful companies that you admire and see how they present their news. Also checkout the PR Toolkit as we`ll be adding more information about this soon.
    Thanks Steve...more to come...
    Melanie
  • stevesteve Posts: 14subscriber
    Thanks, I`ll give it a try.
  • PRProPRPro Posts: 25subscriber
    Hi BoldPrint,
    Thanks for your note. When deciding on what is newsworthy, think about your customers. What do you think they would find newsworthy? Did you hire a new employee with special credentials who offers a unique benefit? Is your company involved in an event or charity function? Do you have a success story on how one of your customers used your services in a specific way? Is your business celebrating a special anniversary? Are you offering a special discount? Keep your eyes open for unique happenings and success stories within your business. When it is interesting to your customers and others, it will probably be interesting to a media member - especially if it is a unique story and offers a particular benefit.
    Melanie
  • iouone2iouone2 Posts: 14subscriber
    Great starting list PRPro.
  • PRProPRPro Posts: 25subscriber
    Thanks Vincent. Hopefully, visitors will let me know their big PR issues, and then we can help them!
    Melanie
     
  • PRProPRPro Posts: 25subscriber
    Hi Grokodile,
    Thanks for your input, and congratulations on writing your first press release! It`s always more of a challenge to do anything the first time so you should give yourself a "pat on the back" for getting this finished. And I think it`s great that you had a third party look at your content before sending it out. It is easy to get "too close" to your copy, and an ousider can find mistakes and messaging that does not work.
    At this point, you are in better shape than most because you were actually worried that your information wasn`t "newsworthy." Many fresh business owners will post "news" without thinking about it beforehand.
    We`ll be adding some additional PR help to this site for you July 1st, but in the meantime, feel free to send me any other questions that come up.
    Have a great day!
    Melanie
  • idealfavorsidealfavors Posts: 0subscriber
     
     idealfavors2007-10-8 16:11:16
  • PRProPRPro Posts: 25subscriber
    Hi Kristen,
    Thanks for your note. I understand what you are going through. With a tight budget and limited time, it can be difficult to get the publicity you are looking for. Right now, I have three suggestions for you.
    1. If there is a community college or university near you, contact the marketing/public relations professors. Perhaps you can create some kind of program where the students develop and implement a PR/marketing program for you. Since they will be graded and are "fresh" to the industry, you may get some wonderful research and marketing/PR work done at no charge. And from these efforts, you may be able to hire one of the students as a paid intern at a reduced rate to continue the PR efforts.
    2. Another option is to really focus on the one marketing/PR area that you think will bring in the most sales. Rather than conduct numerous marketing and PR activities, consider the one action you can do that will make a difference. Then, spend your valuable time on this one effort (networking with a larger organization, sending out a press release, pitching one, major media venue, etc.). Perhaps, this one, concentrated effort will help bring in the funds you need to hire a professional marketing and PR person. 
    3. One other activity to try is to barter with PR professionals for their services. Do you have some products or business services to offer in exchange for their help? It may take some time to find someone who can assist you under these conditions, but it`s worth a try.
    PR and marketing professionals offer valuable services that can significantly increase sales and brand awareness. Many small businesses can`t afford these important services when they start out. However, you can get the publicity your business needs. It`s just going to take a little creativity to figure out how to get others to help you. 
    Let me know if any of these suggestions help.
    Thanks Kristen, and I wish you all the best of luck with your business,
    Melanie
  • stevesteve Posts: 14subscriber
    Melanie,

    These are great ideas. Thanks for all your help.

    I`m so excited!  I just got off
    the phone with a reporter for a local business paper. She was very easy
    to talk with. We arranged to meet for an interview and a photo shoot.
    The power of PR!

    Steve
  • RichRich Las Vegas, NVPosts: 636administrator Site Admin
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