The Steps to Take in Order to Make Yourself Famous in Your Small Business
By Pam Lontos
You have set up shop, you have covered all the bases to sustain your business, and you are excellent at what you do. Now, how do you let the world know you exist? Create a PR campaign that will connect you with potential clients and customers.
You want people to say, “I’ve seen your name everywhere!” That way, people will think of you first when they need the product or service your home-based business provides.
Publicity can come from anywhere and in many different forms. It can be as simple as having a letter published on the editorial page of your local newspaper, or as dynamic as having a front-page article with your name splashed across the headlines.
A PR campaign generates free publicity for you — that means getting the attention of the news media. People are far more likely to believe what they read and hear in the news media than they are to believe messages in advertising. Today’s consumers know that your advertising messages are designed to make you look good. They know that you have paid for the broadcast or cable airtime and the space in newspapers or magazines. People are more impressed when you appear in the media as an expert and are more likely to want to hire you.
Your PR plan might include elements such as staging events that local TV and newspaper photographers might wish to cover. Your plan will undoubtedly include the use of press releases. (Please see sidebar) Your plan might have you writing articles for national trade magazines or industry journals.
Examples of PR Plans
Let’s look at two examples that might fit your home-based business.
As gardening weather approaches, for instance, a home-based lawn care company might write an article or send out a press release with how-to tips to establish an organic ornamental garden. Or, a few weeks before spring allergy season arrives, many editors would welcome a press release or article full of ideas for planting beautiful shrubs and bushes that produce low-pollen flowers.
In an example of clever publicity one October, business etiquette expert Colleen Rickenbacher tied her business tips into Halloween celebrations in the office. Editors loved the unique and new approach to the traditional Halloween holiday story, and many interviewed her.
Making Your Idea Relevant
When dealing with the news media, keep in mind that news is their business. That means to get yourself noticed, you must make yourself newsworthy. Presenting an irrelevant topic for the audience, or promoting a weak idea that revolves around you will break the deal. You may have wonderful credentials or skills, but they don’t matter unless your topic matters to the audience. If you provide a good idea backed with solid information, your credentials will speak for themselves. Pitch the story first and then your credentials after you’ve sold the idea.
To make your idea relevant, look for things that are current in the news, such as:
• A Hollywood divorce if you’re a relationship expert
• A disease scare if you’re a health expert
• A lawsuit if you’re an attorney
• An important merger if you’re a strategist
• A new invention if you’re a technology expert
When authoring an article, crafting a news release, or pitching yourself as an interview guest on a news program, go heavy on the benefits. Face it … the media don’t really care about you, your business, or your topic. All they care about is, “What’s in it for my audience?”
Simply describe your business, your topic or your expertise, and they’ll trash your article or release. Instead, show them specifically how your information will help their audience. Provide solutions to their readers’ problems.
Here’s an example: Recently a story broke in USA Today about declining summer labor availability. Ken Whiting, an expert on teen labor and summer jobs, pitched a press release titled, “Teen Jobs teach Value” to daily newspapers within hours of reading the USA Today article. New York Daily News picked up the release, resulting in an interview for Ken.
Print, TV or Radio
When deciding whether to pursue print, TV or radio, give some thought to your potential customer. Who buys your goods or services? Which age group? Which gender? Which income level? To find out who reads a particular magazine, study the advertising. That’s who the magazine is aimed at. Then aim to get yourself published or quoted in that magazine if you’re seeking the same sorts of clients.
When going after ink, many small-business owners may feel intimidated by the big-name publications. They envision high-powered magazine editors schmoozing with Fortune 500 CEOs and lining up interviews with celebrities and tycoons. In reality, editors scramble daily to find people knowledgeable on the latest trends and topics.
Becoming a guest on a TV or radio show can also be part of your PR strategy. The many guest-hungry radio and TV programs afford a great opportunity for publicity. When giving a radio interview over the phone, stand up. This will project extra energy. Remember that television is a medium of emotion. The person who conveys emotion, passion, and belief has the best chance of being remembered.
Using the Internet
These days, no one can afford to ignore the Internet. You must not only have a good web site, but you also probably need a blog. And consider sending out an e-mail newsletter regularly.
Blogs can create a valuable emotional connection with your prospects, customers, and clients. Post as often as you can; several times a week if possible. You can keep your blog focused on the theme of your business, but you can also share such personal details as you are comfortable with. People do business with people they like!
Your e-mail newsletter can be full of how-to pointers and tips. Pack it full of value, and don’t self-promote. A podcast can acquaint millions of people around the world with your name and image overnight, and it’s so easy to listen in their cars or at home.
Hiring a PR Agency
Should you hire a PR agency? If you are good at selling, and you can get editors on the phone, you can be a do-it-yourselfer — if you have time. To be successful in pitching story ideas to editors, however, you must also be sure you understand the etiquette of dealing with journalists. Journalists operate under tough time constraints, and you must quickly get to the point.
However, if you’re not a sales person and you don’t like pitching yourself, you might want to consider engaging a PR agency. Some home-based business owners — artists, for example — may have a more introverted personality. The prospect of picking up the phone and getting an editor on the line may be excruciating. Another benefit of working with a PR agency is that it already has journalistic contacts established. It can pitch story ideas and write articles for you, freeing up your time to devote to other aspects of your business.
No matter whether you hire an agency or do it yourself, getting your name out there is an achievable goal. All it takes is a good idea, a way to tie that idea into the news, and a willingness to approach the news media. Once you are quoted in an article or appear as a guest on a TV or radio show, the media will have you in their sights. There are few limits to how rich and famous you can become. HBM
Pam Lontos is president of PR/PR, a public relations firm based in Orlando, Fla. She is co-author of “I See Your Name Everywhere” and is a former vice president of sales for Disney’s Shamrock Broadcasting. PR/PR has placed clients in publications such as USA Today, Entrepreneur, Time, Reader’s Digest and Cosmopolitan, and clients include Brian Tracy, LeAnn Thieman (author of Chicken Soup for the Nurse’s Soul, Second Dose) and Sy Sperling (founder of Hair Club for Men). PR/PR works with entrepreneurs who are just launching their company, as well as established businesses. For a free publicity consultation, e-mail Pam@prpr.net or call 407-299-6128. To receive free publicity tips, go to www. PRPR.net and register for the monthly e-newsletter, PR/PR Pulse!