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Create Buzz for Your Business in 5 Simple Steps

Toronto-Artist-Mixes-Art-and-Business-on-a-Palette-of-Social-Commentary

Some business owners feel challenged when it comes to public relations. They know media coverage will help create a buzz for their business, but may not have the manpower or expertise to get the story out. Don’t fret! You can learn how to sell your story to the press like these business owners. We’ve also included five tips to help get your business in the media spotlight.

The Media Loves a Great Story

A bookstore is about to close, putting long-time employees out of work. Two of them buy the business, start an online crowdfunding campaign and use the money they raise to turn it into a shop that caters exclusively to comic and gaming fans.

A tiny home brewery expands into the micro-brewing marketplace and moves into new purpose-built facilities.

A store promotes the fact that it will now sell only local, handmade goods.

And, a local restaurant hires a celebrity chef who moved home to retire but just couldn't stay out of the kitchen.

What do these businesses have in common? They all knew that the right mention in the right media at the right time would create a buzz for their business and have a big impact on their success.

Whether you're opening a new business, expanding an existing one, introducing a new product line or service or just have a unique story that will pique public interest, you too can get free publicity in local newspapers, online and on radio and television newscasts. How? Start with these five simple steps:

  1. Ask yourself: "What's my story?"

    What sets you and your business apart from others? Is there something different or unusual about what you sell or the service you offer? Do you have an interesting employee? Is there something happening in your line of business that has pushed sales through the roof?

    In other words, determine what might make your business newsworthy and then write it down in one or two simple sentences. Try it out on friends or customers to see if it piques their curiosity. If it does, chances are it will be of interest to a broader audience.

  2. Write a pitch or press release.

    In as few words as possible, sell your story to a journalist, editor or producer. For example, using the latest unemployment statistics as a hook, one medium-size manufacturer wrote: “Local company desperate for help even as unemployment rises.” Now that you have their attention, provide a few details. What kinds of jobs can't you fill? What problems is that causing your company? Let them know who they can talk to and/or when they can visit your business.

    Always follow-up if you don't hear from anyone right away. And, don't forget to send your pitch to local bloggers as well as traditional media.

  3. Offer an exclusive.

    Depending on the strength of your story, you might want to offer it solely to the newspaper, broadcast station or blog with the largest audience. Journalists love getting a scoop and tend to feel more invested in a story when it’s theirs and theirs alone. There is a downside however, as you risk alienating other media in the same market. Thankfully, journalists have short memories…especially when they face a fast-approaching deadline!

  4. Become the local expert.

    You may not have a specific story to pitch, but you can put your knowledge to good use. A golf pro can promote his course by offering to provide free weekly video tips to be aired on local TV sportscasts throughout the summer. An auto mechanic can explain how to avoid large repair bills. A veterinarian can give advice on how to care for pets.

    Every time you are quoted in a newspaper, blog or interviewed on radio or TV, you build a relationship of trust with potential customers. If you're running a borderless online business and want to reach a wider audience, consider joining ProfNet, Help a Reporter Out (HARO) and/or a similar services where journalists go to seek sources for their stories.

  5. Sponsor an event or activity.

    There's nothing more powerful than to be seen as a "good neighbour." Sponsoring a Little League team or 10K run for charity will get your business name out there and build goodwill in your community.

For the owners of small and medium-size businesses, publicity is more valuable than advertising, and not only because it's free.

A news story about your business has a longer shelf life and often reaches a larger audience. It also has more credibility with consumers and clients – when they see you have been featured in the media, they start to see you as a leader in your field.

The best part is that with the trend toward 24/7 news coverage, the need for content has never been greater. Follow the steps above and your business could soon find itself in the media spotlight.