One of the most cost effective ways to market your small business is by having your name or product mentioned in the press. From small radio and print outlets, to large-scale publications, there is a world of marketing that most small business owners don’t know how to access. And best of all, it’s FREE.
While getting press can be tricky, it is completely attainable for those who are willing to get creative and put in the work. And the good news is that, no matter what, reporters are always looking to fill airspace and newspaper pages with information that matters to their audiences. The trick then is to position your brand in a way that makes you appealing to both journalists and consumers.
1. Your PR Plan Starts From Day One
When I dreamed up the concept for my business, Little Box of Rocks, I knew instinctively that PR would play a key role in getting off the ground. Knowing this helped me to make important decisions on how to position my brand. Everything from the verbiage I chose to the product packaging was designed with a specific media plan in mind.
Your press plan should start right from the moment you dream up your company. Then, as you make important decisions you will ask yourself key questions related to your media strategy. Questions like: Will you pitch to gift-guides? If so, can your products be positioned as gifts? What kind of publications might feature your business? Can you custom make products to appeal to specific categories such as bridal magazines or mom bloggers? You’ll also want to know your competition and be sure that your product is different enough to make it worth mentioning. They call it “news” for a reason, so be sure that what you are offering is “new” and noteworthy. If not, you’ll want to find ways of giving your concept a fresh twist. For instance, if the product itself isn’t unique, perhaps the “newness” comes from the way it is used or the uniqueness of its packaging. (See my post on 4 Tips for Perfect Product Packaging.)
2. A Good Stage Name Goes a Long Way
Of course, every superstar needs a great stage name. Your business is no different. A catchy name can mean the difference between getting PR and getting overlooked entirely. I can only imagine the different direction my company would have taken had I named it Crystal Gift Boxes instead of Little Box of Rocks. If you’ve already registered your business and bought the 800 domain names associated with it, don’t panic. If you have a simple business name, consider taking a closer look at the name of the products. Do they grab attention or are they easily forgotten? Take your time in making sure that the choices you make are worth talking about.
3. “Products tell, and stories sell.”
Being the daughter of a very successful saleswoman, I heard this sales principle over and over when I was growing up. I remember riding along as my mom sold everything from pizza to pantyhose from the trunk of her car. It didn’t seem to matter what she was selling, she’d always end up winning the top sales award for that year from her company. Why? Because she knew that the story mattered more than what she was selling, and she was sure to make this connection with her customers.
As you are building your brand and devising your media strategy, be sure to be completely clear on your story. Think about how and why you got started. What sparked the idea? What personal need were you hoping to fill? What did your friends and family have to say about it? What kind of impact has your product had on the lives of your customers? Personally, I dreamed up my company in a lightning bolt moment when I was bathing my 6-month-old baby. This has been quoted and re-quoted in more articles than I can count. Why? Because it’s personal and people can relate to it. It doesn’t have to be extravagant. It just has to be real and intriguing.
4. Give them what they need
Journalists have incredibly busy, deadline driven jobs. If they have to dig too much for basic information, or can’t easily get you on the phone in a timely manner, you run the risk that they will move on to another source (a.k.a. your competitor) to fill the story. When a journalist expresses interest in your business, be available and willing to provide what they need, quickly and without any hassle. Some things to keep on hand are:
- High res images of you, your product, and logo
- A fact sheet with pertinent company details (sales territory, year started, number of employees, customer demographic.)
- Product samples
5. Piggyback On Other Trends
When Jennifer Lawrence said she hated healing crystals, Little Box of Rocks saw an enormous boost in business. Why? Because brands aren’t separate entities – they are a part of a living breathing consumer market that is constantly evolving. Stay tuned in to trends in your industry and how the media shows interest. Often journalists will piggyback on trends by contacting local experts on a popular subject matter. For instance, I’m often contacted to talk about healing crystals and entrepreneurship. Find the name of the reporter who covers stories related to your business and when a story hits on a national level, write a press release about it and how it relates to your product!
6. Reach out
People ask me all the time how I got my company in the Goop holiday gift guide in 2015, two months after I opened my business. The answer: I straight up emailed them. When starting out, I suggest contacting up to 100 reporters and outlets a month for at least 2 months. Start with medium sized blogs related your field, and work your way up to the bigger ones as soon as you have some smaller mentions under your belt.