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Seven Tips to Securing Publicity for Your Small Business

Why do some companies succeed in generating publicity while others don't? It's been proved time and time gain that no matter how large or small your business is, the key to securing publicity is identifying your target market and developing a well thought out public relations campaign. To get your company noticed, follow these seven steps. You'll notice that many are similar or identical to steps you went through when developing your marketing plan:

1. Write your positioning statement.

This sums up in a few sentences what makes your business different from the competition.

2. List your objectives.

What do you hope to achieve for your company through the publicity plan you put into action? List your top five goals in order of priority. Be specific, and always set deadlines. Using a clothing boutique as an example, some goals may be to:

A. Increase your store traffic, which will translate into increased sales

B. Create a high profile for your store within the community

3. Identify your target customers.

Are they male or female? What is the targeted age range? What are their lifestyles, incomes, and buying habits? Where do they live?

4. Identify your target media.

List the newsletters, magazines, TV, or radio programs in your area that would be appropriate outlets. Make a complete list of the media you want to target, then either email or call them and ask the specific reporter or producer who covers your area so you can contact them directly. Your local library will have media reference books that list contact names and numbers. Make your own media directory, listing names, addresses, and telephone numbers. Separate TV, radio, and print sources.

5. Develop story angles.

Keeping in mind the media you're approaching, make a list of story ideas you can pitch to them. Develop story angles you would want to read about or see on TV. Think back to the last story about a company that kept your attention. What angle and interest was in that story and others that caught your eye? Plan an hour brainstorming session with a business associate or your interns to come up with fresh ideas. For example, if you are opening a toy store, one angle could be to donate toys to the local hospital's pediatric wing. Remember, be original, and be CREATIVE!

6. Make the pitch.

Put your thoughts on paper, and send them to the reporter in a "pitch letter." Start with a question or an interesting fact that relates your business to the target medium's audience. Make sure your letter includes all of your contact information.

7. Follow up.

Following up is the key to securing coverage. Wait 4-6 days after you've sent the information, then follow up your pitch letter with a call and an email. If you leave a message on voice mail and the reporter does not call you back, call again until you get him or her on the phone. Do not leave a second message within five days of the first. If the reporter requests additional information, send it immediately and follow up to confirm receipt.

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