Done well, publicity can develop your name recognition, give your business instant credibility and ultimately lead to increased sales. Best of all, publicity is absolutely free.
Publicity can come from anywhere and in many different forms. It can be as simple as having your product reviewed by a blogger, or as dynamic as having your company's name splashed across the headlines of a magazine or newspaper. Unfortunately, because of the many myths that shroud the concept of publicity, many business owners fail to seek it out.
Before you can get your business the publicity it deserves, you need to separate the PR facts from the fiction. Below are the most common publicity myths and the truths behind them.
Myth #1: I need to own a "big" business to get the media's attention
While it's true that big business names are common in magazine and trade journal articles, the fact is big business makes up only a small percentage of the economy. Most readers know the big business names, but they often can't identify with them or their challenges. That's why many magazines and trade journals are eager to hear opinions and perspectives from owners of small and medium-sized businesses. So whether you're a solo entrepreneur, a franchise operator or a family business owner, find out what reporters want and then enthusiastically give your slant on the topic.
Myth #2: My business will be a household name from one big hit
Getting mentioned in or interviewed by a major national publication is certainly impressive. But will such a stroke of luck make your business a household name? Not likely. To become a household name, you need to develop top-of-mind awareness. That's when people think of you first to fulfill their product or service needs. It's when publications of all sizes quote you and publish your articles. It's when customers and prospects say, "I've seen your company everywhere." Most important, it's when people purchase your products or services because they know your company's name and they perceive you as the marketplace leader. The only way to do this is through constant exposure in a variety of publications, not just one big placement.
Myth #3: I need to use big words to impress the interviewer
In most cases, the person interviewing you, as well as the publication's readers, are not as intimate with your industry as you are. Therefore, they need the information you give them to be understandable and at a layperson's comprehension level. The best approach is to avoid speaking with industry jargon or using techno-terms. Instead, speak as if you were explaining something for the first time. The simpler you can make your information, the better your chances of being quoted as the expert source.
Myth #4: I need a unique theory or insight
While you don't want to rehash old news, there's no need to rack your brain for a totally new theory or perspective. The best approach is to present your findings, opinions or topic of expertise in a new light-one that may be close to someone else's, but that catches the reporter's or editor's interest. Perhaps you have information that can refute a recent claim or shows how a current business challenge is affecting the publication's target readership. When you simply put a new spin on a current theory or insight that interests the publication's readers, reporters will want to present your findings.
Myth #5: I can't get my business into that publication
It's common for small and medium-sized business owners to feel intimidated by the big-name publications. They envision high-powered magazine editors schmoozing with big company CEOs and lining up interviews with well-known figureheads for the next six months. In reality, editors scramble daily to find people to interview who have knowledge on the latest trends and topics. Realize too that editors must find new and exciting people to interview either weekly or monthly, so the more knowledgeable people they can add to their database, the better. Make yourself stand out as a reliable information source and you will get the media's attention.
Myth #6: Small publications don't matter
Small publications are just as important as the big ones. Why? Because you never know who reads them. You may think that a magazine with a 10,000-15,000 circulation could never get your business the kind of publicity you want, but what if half of those readers were your target customers? Even better, what if your interview or article in a small publication prompted an editor from a large publication to call you? So target small publications as well as the large ones. As long as your information is interesting and accurate, you will gain more attention and get the publicity you need.
Myth #7: I don't need print publicity now that I have profiles on social media sites
Don't assume that you can abandon traditional PR tools just because you start having some success with social media marketing. It's a useful and inexpensive element of publicity, but you also need the credibility and marketing from other traditional tools, such as print publicity in newspapers and magazines. In addition, some online reputation sites will give you a lower ranking if you don't have anything in the "real world." Just remember, you still need media exposure and a physical presence, in addition to your online presence.
Getting publicity is the best way to promote your business. The better you understand it, the better you can use it to your advantage. With a constant stream of good publicity, your business is destined to grow.
Pam Lontos is president of PR/PR, an Orlando-based public relations firm. She is author of "I See Your Name Everywhere: Leverage the Power of the Media to Grow Your Fame, Wealth and Success" and is a former vice president of sales for Disney's Shamrock Broadcasting. E-mail her at Pam@prpr.net or call 407-299-6128.