It’s the holy grail of all small businesses –  Free Publicity.

But how do you get it?

In this age of information overload, it can be hard for beginning businesses to be heard above the din of more experienced buzz-makers.

The good news is that the more media outlets there are–newspapers, e-zines, magazines, social media sites, and blog-talk radio shows, the more media outlets are looking for quality content. And local media outlets are hungry for LOCAL media content… meaning you and your business.

Sadly, local media producers are unlikely to come to you. If you want the media to report on your business, you have to let them know why they should.

The press release is a business’s primary tool for communicating with the media. A press release is a one- to two-page document that informs the media of a newsworthy event at your company.

What is a newsworthy event?

A new product launch; a new management-level hire; a new location; new store hours; new social responsibility initiative; new partnership – all are newsworthy events. Are you seeing a connection here? What’s newsworthy is what’s NEW. It’s really that simple.

Sure, not every editor is going to be interested in every new offering that comes out of your company, but tailor your news release to the appropriate outlet.

The business section of the local paper may be interested in your new product line, while the news and lifestyle editors will not. Perhaps there’s a trade publication for your industry? Send your new product launch press release to its editor. If your company makes the cover of the trade publication that news may warrant a story in the hometown paper or news broadcast.

Take, for example, Lucky Penny Press. They recently partnered with poet laureate emirata of Santa Barbara to co-create a picture book of poetry for kids and adults. We sent a press release to the Santa Barbara Independent arts editor, who found it pertinent because the poet, Perie Longo, maintains a following in the Santa Barbara area, and April is National Poetry Month. Lucky Penny Press got some good publicity out of the deal.

What are some other ways you can generate buzz for your business?

Do something for your community. 

Partner with a local nonprofit to clean up the beach. Start an intern program for local teens. Conduct an office food drive for local fire or flood victims.  Take a photo of any of these initiatives, write it up, and send it to the local press. Do it monthly. You’re doing something for the people the media serve and they are likely to cover it.

Create a contest.

This is one of the most effective ways of building social media followers and fans. Offer your product as the prize and give people a chance to win it for “Liking” or “Sharing” your page. Mashable wrote a great post about the creative ways businesses used contests to build their online community. One of my favorites is the Downtown Ithaca’s Alliance, which hides a garden gnome somewhere in downtown Ithaca, NY. People hit the streets in order to find the gnome and post their findings on DIA’s various social media channels. A great way to build community and a relatively free and easy way to drum up press.

Host an event.

Open your doors for the local art walk. Have a monthly open house with wine and cheese. Host a talk about something your business is knowledgeable in. People love free events–especially with food and drink–and most local media will list free events in their Calendar sections–for free.

These are just a few ways you can get the word going about your business. There are numerous other ways to get the media interested in what you’re doing… ways we call “hooking” an editor.

Do you have any creative ways to “hook” an editor?

Let us hear about ’em!

–Leslee Goodman
Alchemy On Demand

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