Small businesses today cannot afford to be isolated; competition has become so fierce that entrepreneurs must constantly seek attention from outsiders. These outsiders include the media, consumer or advocacy group, or even the government. Especially with the advent of e-commerce, change now comes at a lightning speed that small businesses need to struggle harder just to be heard from the noise of the crowd.
Why should your small or home-based business worry about getting good publicity? Is it really worth all the time and hassle? There are a number of very good reasons why you should generate as much favorable publicity for your business, agency, or group as you possibly can:
1. Promoting your organization is simply smart investment. Promoting your business name, products and activities are critical for the survival of any business. You cannot simply open a store (whether online or traditional) and wait for customers to come in droves! You need to get the word out that you exist, and that only you could fill out their business needs. Side-by-side with an advertising strategy, make sure that your business has an aggressive promotional strategy. Every positive article or photo published in the daily newspaper, every favorable one-minute clip on the early evening news, every complimentary mention in some specialty newsletter or magazine is FREE! Sure, it may cost a bit of staff time for the preparation of press materials, or communication expenses to help you get to know the appropriate contact persons. But it did not cost you anywhere near the big bucks that the same number of column inches in the newspaper or the same amount of airtime on the TV news would have cost if you'd paid for it as advertising! That's not a bad return on investment.
2. You get more audience attention with editorial coverage. Aside from being able to save advertising dollars, you gain more viewer or reader attention with every free mention in the print media and coverage on electronic media. Paid ads can be glossed over, skipped or even totally ignored. But if your business is the focus of an article, or gets mentioned favorably in a business column, you are able to capture the attention of the readers and engage them in your news story. You’ll get far more reader or viewer attention from free editorial space or time than you will from an equal amount of paid ad space or time.
3. It is free! For some organizations the free publicity that is available through the media may be the only way they can afford to reach the public. This is especially true some small start-up businesses and home-based entrepreneurs that may have lots of marketing energy but little or no marketing budget. Raise continuous public awareness for your business. You can achieve this by constant press releases, or even submission of articles to industry publications. Get your organization’s name printed or mentioned as often as possible in the media!
4. It is more credible. It is a fact: news is more believable than advertising. People have more faith in what they read in newspapers or magazine and in what they hear from radio or TV commentators than they have in paid advertising. For the audience, a third-party comment implies objectivity. And for the media to run it in their print or electronic publications, it simply means that they have faith in the story and know that it is not pure drivel.
5. You can sell products through publicity. Sales pitches are by no means limited to paid advertising. Publicity can be effectively used as a sales tool and a come-on for potential customers. Writing about the benefits of a technology that your company developed surely will lead to greater awareness for your product, and ringing cash registers. In travel and hospitality industry, those 'rah rah' feature articles about fun places to go and all those favorable restaurant reviews in the newspapers and magazines are most certainly "selling' you on those spots as somewhere you should visit. A feature article from Wall Street Journal, for example, can cause your phone to ring off the hook and clog your emails with inquiries.
6. Publicity can even generate revenue, make money for you. Taking publicity a step higher, your organization can produce a free-distribution newsletter as a public relations tool, disseminated to media, industry specialists and target market. As more people find your newsletter valuable, you can now convert it into paid subscriptions. Several industries have successfully used this approach, from the health and fitness industry, to travel industry. Or another approach may be to put together a collection of articles you've generated into a pamphlet or booklet and marketing it. For example, this might work well for a how-to business, such as a hardware store or home center. Finally, sometimes you can even get paid for writing an article for a magazine or journal, especially if you have some unique expertise to offer.
7. Your increase your organization’s credibility. Regular (positive) exposure in the media legitimizes your business in the eyes of the community. Media appearances greatly boost the perceived value of whatever you offer the public. You will be giving out the message that not only does your business exist; but also it must be important to warrant the attention of the media. People have this perception, further fueled by media itself, that if something's in the paper or on TV, then it must be significant and valuable. If your organization or name constantly gets media attention or coverage, doors can easily open for you; including that previously elusive bank loan. It could also help make hiring employees easier. Regular mentions in the media say to the community, 'We're here to stay. We're not some fly-by-night outfit that's here today and gone tomorrow. We're neighbors, part of the community."
8. Publicity can help you rise above your competition. The more media appearances you make, the more your organization’s name will come up when they think “leather goods” or “restaurant.” Publicity can give you a three-fold effect: you earn publicity by setting yourself apart from the competition; then it gives you a higher profile; then feeling better about yourself, you become more visible.
In today’s hypercompetitive environment, aiming for free media coverage makes good business sense. Publicity will cost you nothing but time and energy; but it will allow you to reach results that maybe you yourself never imagined. And don’t get too busy to celebrate any sort of publicity coup. The glow of passing the word to the public about you or your organization can be warm and sweet. Enjoy it!
Isabel M. Isidro is the co-founder of PowerHomeBiz.com, one of the leading online sources of information for small and home-based businesses. For information on starting a business her Web site.
Full Author Profile -->