Carolyn M. Brown –Blackenterprise.com
Small business owners for little or no cost can still get their product messages to the public with an inventive approach to getting publicity. This isn’t the same thing as advertising, which is about you paying to have your message placed in a newspaper, TV, or radio spot. For some businesses, good publicity may be more effective in generating sales than good advertising. For instance, an article about your business will be remembered far longer than say a TV spot. Publicity also generally reaches a far wider audience than advertising does.
How can you get positive publicity and free press for your small business or startup? BlackEnterprise.com posed that questions to members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses. The following are their top eight answers.
1. Sponsor local events. The best way to get your business name out in the world is to put it in front of a lot of people. Sponsoring local events like 5Ks or festivals can make you visible. Better yet, you can often contribute with products instead of cash, so not only do you get noticed, but you get people actually using or experiencing your business’ product. That’s a lot of exposure without a cash investment.
– Ty Morse, Songwhale
2. Blog on Medium. Medium can be a powerful channel for building momentum and connecting with readers—and publishers—before you’ve built an established audience of your own.
3. Look for opportunities on HARO (Help a Reporter Out). HARO allows people and companies to receive free publicity in exchange for providing valuable content to reporters. Reporters will often request a comment from someone who has experience in the field that they are writing about. This is a great source of free press because it shows that the contributor is knowledgeable in their field.
– Dan Sapozhnikov, AdGate Media LLC
4. Highlight exceptional users or customers. Go to press with amazing stories promoting your users or customers. People are always skeptical when they think you’re trying to promote yourself, but they let their guard down when you are trying to help out others. You can identify these potential stories by emailing your users asking them to share their stories with you, or by running a survey on your site.
5. Get creative. If you want people to know who you are, the best way to do that is to create and share great content. It could consist of blog posts, YouTube videos, or even a press release or two; it could offer anything from entertainment to education. Draft up a mission statement—what sort of content will resonate with your audience and the desired outcome—and get cracking.
6. Get others to promote for you. Find the time to do a lunchtime talk at a college or speak at events where the attendees will tweet quotes and post pictures that serve as press for you. Host events, sponsor competitions, or do whatever is relevant and helpful to your customer base so that people see you are trying to do something great for the community and will graciously advocate for you and your business.
7. Perfect your pitch and targeting. Perfect a one-sentence pitch that will quickly let journalists, bloggers and entrepreneurs know about your startup first. You’ll save a lot of time down the road by effectively describing what you do differently. I also recommend being very selective about where and to whom you pitch. No matter your technique or platform, it always pays to prepare your message and choose recipients carefully.
8. Do something worth writing about. There is always a need for content and people are scrambling to find something interesting to publish. Make their life easy and do something worth writing about, then tell them about it. Find a unique angle and share it. Tie into a broader theme that is popular. Stop thinking about your needs and think about theirs. The rest flows naturally.