One of the most challenging things for small business owners to grapple with is how to get publicity for their business. With so much "noise" out there with competitors clamoring for media profile, how does a small business get their voice heard above the din? Following are 10 Publicity Strategies For Your Small Business.
1. Know Your Audience. Who is your audience? Who are you trying to reach? What is the "sweet spot" in your demographic research? Before you do anything related to publicity, you must be able to easily answer these questions. Without this knowledge, you won't be able to craft a successful public relations or publicity campaign. Take the time to talk to your customers and to research your sales and marketing reports. Know what's going on in your industry and what your existing and potential clients are talking about within this context. Who is your typical customer? What's their gender? Age? Annual income? By knowing this information, you will be much better able to come up with a publicity campaign that will resonate.
2. Know Your Media. This means the editors, writers, producers and others who may be the ones promoting your product and service. The easiest way of getting on media's bad side is to not know what "beat" they cover and pitching them stories or ideas that have nothing to do with their area of focus. Do your research and once completed, keep it updated. These days especially, media wear many different hats and move within the industry frequently. They work within many different media, from print, to online to broadcast, or all three. Know who is doing what, and where. The homework you do now will allow you to build strong relationships so that you'll eventually be able to easily connect with key media to pitch stories and ideas.
3. Define Your Niche. Though it may seem counter-intuitive, it's better to target a specific group of potential customers than to try to be all things to all people. The more you can refine and focus your publicity efforts, the greater likelihood you will be successful. You can't be all things to all people so don't try to be something you're not. Determine what your company's focal point is and don't veer away from it in your public profile.
4. Develop a Company Message and Stick To It. You can call it a key message document, a mission statement or a value proposition. Whatever terminology or format you use, the important point is that the document must succinctly outline who you are and what you stand for. Who is your company? What is the purpose of your business? Why should people care? Make it interesting, snappy and unique and try to stay away from boring business-speak. The messages included here should be the benchmark for all of your public discussions and materials related to your business. Consistency is the key. Once you've finessed your message, you're ready to share it to your target audience.
5. Plan, Plan, Plan. Trying to get publicity without a solid plan that includes goals and objectives is a waste of time. If you don't know what you're trying to achieve, how can you effectively move forward? What would you like to see? An increase in sales within a certain period of time? Your company name mentioned in the same sentences as leading competitors? Having your business perceived as a leader in its field? Sit down and put together a comprehensive, year-long plan that includes not only your company's goals and objectives, but also the publicity strategies that will be used to get there.
6. Write a Press Release. But don't make it boring. Just another product announcement or company win won't get through to the editors who are looking for a good story. To successfully garner attention for your announcement, you need to have a genuine item of interest to share. As well, you must be a good storyteller. A new product or service may seem interesting to you but to most editors and the general public, it's of little importance. Give people a reason to want to learn more about your business by providing a different or unique narrative about your company that will make them sit up on their chairs. Ask yourself some of these questions when crafting a press release: Is there a human aspect to your announcement? Why would anyone care about this announcement? Would I read this press release if it was sent to me? Make sure you can positively answer these questions before distributing your release.
7. Pitch Your Story. What's your story? Can you distill a compelling idea or narrative in 30 seconds or less? This may be all the time you have if you happen to get the ear of an editor on the phone; less time if you're trying to catch someone's attention via email. Learn how to be a master storyteller, one who knows how to pitch and one whose emails get the attention of the editors who have the ability to make or break your story. Want to get in the paper, on the news or on TV or radio? You have to be well written, well-spoken, creative and flexible in your ideas.
8. Actively Use Social Media. It goes without saying that if you're a small business owner, social media must be in your arsenal of publicity tools. The big three: Twitter, Facebook and YouTube will not only increase your public profile, but will also allow you to connect with your existing and potential clients as well. If you're uncomfortable with the prospect of interacting this way, do some research and learn the specific tricks and tools of the trade so that you're well-prepared when you start to build your social media profile. Some ideas on how to use the big three include regularly scheduled Twitter chats where you can engage in discussion and conversation with your audience; Facebook can be used to share business updates and wins as well as current industry trends; a YouTube channel is a great opportunity for your customers to get to know your staff, business, events and more. Used effectively, social media can be a successful way to reach a variety of audiences and potential customers.
9. Start a Blog. By far one of the best ways of getting your business name out there is starting a blog. Whether it's done by the company president and/or key staff, it can have the same effect, if done correctly. Like social media, a blog can provide your company with a "face" and a more approachable method of two-way communication with your clients. Done well, a blog will be an ongoing support to your key messages as well as a way to form relationships with existing and future customers. One caveat: blogging by definition requires frequent updating, so make sure you're committed to the process once the site is up.
10. Speak Up. Speaking opportunities are a great way of profiling not only an individual, but the business that she's involved in as well. Research and source opportunities for your key business spokespeople to get in front of target audiences, wherever possible. Some starting points include local chambers of commerce and business associations, industry events and conventions. When choosing opportunities, make sure to speak about topics that will not only interest and engage audiences, but will allow you to draw in new clients or customers who will now see you (and by extension, your business) as a thought leader in the field.
Samantha Kemp-Jackson is the founder and President of Triple M Communications, a public relations consultancy that focuses on media relations, writing, content marketing and social media strategy.
This article originally appeared on LinkedIn Pulse, titled The Top 10 Publicity Strategies For Your Small Business.
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