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Each small business owner is on a similar quest. We’re constantly on the hunt for new clients. While we know that the best way to get new clients is through referrals, it’s difficult to grow a business through recommendations alone. It takes determination, drive and creativity.
Certainly, verbal and written testimonials are invaluable. When it comes to impressing potential clients, however, nothing lends an air of “credibility” like having your name in print. I’m not talking about an advertisement in the local newspaper, although that may be part of your overall campaign. I’m talking about getting you and your business on the editorial pages.
There are several ways to get the press to notice you. There are two ways to do this. You can hire a PR firm. Or if you’re on a limited budget you can get ink on your own. Here’s how to get started getting free press.
Some public relations firms subscribe to services like PR Leads which allow journalists to find resources for their stories. It works like this: journalists submit a description of the story they are working on including the type of information they are looking for, and how they wish to be contacted. PR firms then pass relevant queries to their clients. It’s one of the easiest ways for smaller PR firms to help their clients get national press.
A few years ago, these services were available only to organizations that could afford to pay monthly fees. Today, however, you can have access to Journalists for free. That’s right, for Free with Help A Reporter Out (HARO). All you have to do is sign up as a Source and you will receive queries several times a day right to your inbox.
HARO is a great resource for small businesses to connect with reporters. And knowing exactly what journalists are looking for increases your chances of getting press tremendously.
Here again, hiring a public relations firm can help you get your articles placed quickly. However, editors, particularly those at local papers, are always looking for strong material. Begin by reading several editions of your local press. Learn which topics they cover.
Get started with simple “How to” articles that showcase your area of expertise. All you need is an introduction, followed by a few points and a brief closing. This article is one example.
Developing relationships with local editors will help pave your way. Chamber of Commerce events provide a great opportunity to hook up with local media.
Anther way to get free press is by speaking at local organizations. Nearly every community has active professional groups and all of them need speakers for their monthly meetings. While these organizations generally don’t pay per se, they often get placements for their events in the local papers. If sufficiently piqued, a writer may interview the speaker for a feature article.
Look for prospects in your local paper, phone book or Chamber of Commerce directory. Visit the organization’s website to find out what type of speakers they’ve had in the past. If they don’t have a website call. Attend a meeting to get a feel for the group.
Once you’ve done your research, develop a proposal and list of potential places to speak. Then either send an email or pick up the phone and start calling. Many program directors will ask you to send information. Don’t worry, your materials needn’t be elaborate – a bio, picture and outline of your presentation will do.
Getting press coverage isn’t easy. While you can save dollars, you need to pay out in terms of time, patience and determination. It’s likely you’ll get several “no’s” before the first “yes.” Be persistent. Eventually you’ll be seeing your name in print