On September 18th, I had the great pleasure of sitting on a panel at the Association of Small Business Development Centers (ASBDC) annual conference in Denver, CO. to speak to an audience of SBDC counselors on this very subject. I was joined by Rieva Lesonsky, SVP/Editorial Director for Entrepreneur magazine, Brian Moran, President of Moran Media and Jim Blasingame, the small expert behind the The Small Business Advocate "empire."
ASBDC is comprised of extremely dedicated and knowledable people who counsel the over 1.3 million small businesses and entrepreneurs who seek their guidance, advice and counsel every year. I can't say enough about the good work that they do, and if you're a small business - I highly recommend that you visit a local SBDC center in your area. There's no excuse not to, and their various services are FREE! Visit their site for more information: http://www.asbdc-us.org/
In the spirit of the conference and "do-it-yourself" small business marketing, I've included a few easy to implement ideas to help you garner media attention. Are these the most important things listed in level of importance? Order? The answer is no. I only have ten more minutes to write this post, so I have to get the show on the road. I'll discuss similar ideas in future posts, but here are some quick thoughts to get you thinking like a PR pro:
- Create an interesting hook for your product or service: Let's say you own a local bakery and you bake your breads in a special 100 year old stone oven using your nona's special recipe from the "old country." Since there are thousands of bakeries in the U.S. - capitalize on the uniqueness of your bakery and highlight what makes it special or different from the rest. By first accomplishing that task, you'll open up your world to numerous marketing and PR opportunities.
Just Remember this: Not all businesses that produce similar products or services are created equal and highlighting a small nuance or feature can make the difference between success or failure. Wolfgang Puck redefined our concept of pizza by eschewing the predictable pepperoni, bell pepper and onion topping, and placing high-quality ingredients on the same ol' dough. I doubt that he was the first, but in the 80's when his pizza's were all the rage, you couldn't find anyone who would compare them to the well-known mega pizza chains. He became the anti-Pizza Hut or Round Table, which helped better define his niche and target audience. By design, his pizza's became synonymous with discerning tastes, not Superbowl parties and beer.
Tie Your Product or Service to a special trend or create seasonal relevance: Using the first example, you could pitch the growth of the slow food movement and the increased demand that people now have for artisan breads and other foods. Do you know other small food producers who uphold quality and superior production techniques over quantity? Get together with them and pitch a trend story -now it has even more legs. Journalists are time-strapped and deadline driven. If you think like a journalist and package a non-commercial story, you'll have a better opportunity for coverage.
Maybe you dump the hook and simply want your bakery reviewed? You can call the appropriate editor in advance to arange a sample of warm bread to be delivered to their office with all the fixin's, including facts and information about the bakery. Maybe you decide to tie a speciality, seasonal product to a national holiday? Whether it's Christmas, Thanksgiving or National Twinkie Week, some media outlet is producing a fluff piece about it. Count on it. Every year.
I could go on, but these ideas are just examples of things that you can accomplish on your own, if you have some creativity and think like:
1. a journalist (the gatekeeper)
2. the end consumer who has to ask themselves if the information provided by the gatekeeper is useful or interesting. You have to think of newsworthiness from both perspectives, and then you're half-way home.