Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Power of PR and Media Coverage for Small Biz

When it comes to PR, most small business owners wonder how other companies get it: how do they end up in the story in the trade magazine that everyone reads? Why them and not me?  I have often marveled that some people are quoted even though they really don't know that much about the topic.

Increased credibility and visibility are the result of getting media coverage.

Being quoted in the media, print or broadcast, makes you the expert. The upshot is most people who read the article or hear the interview simply assume the one being interviewed is the expert.

I can tell you for a fact that getting press does not involve brain surgery or rocket science. I know. I have gotten a TON of media coverage since March, 1994 when I got my first major interview. I have been interviewed for and quoted in over 200 publications in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. I have been profiled in Entrepreneur, Marketing Computers (no longer with us) and Federal Computer Week. I have also been on television in Baltimore and D.C., and on over 50 radio stations.

I have accomplished this without a PR agency working on my behalf, through my own efforts.

I have a few thoughts to share , then a suggestion. First, the tips.

So, how do you get from POINT A (not getting any press/media) to POINT B (having some coverage, maybe more than some)?  A direct route is best.

What it takes is some time, a plan, and some patience - basically the same three elements it takes to start a business.

The first step should be obvious. You should know the publications that address your market niche: traditional trade publications like Government Executive magazine, Washington Business Journal, Baltimore Business Journal, Maryland Daily Record, Federal Computer Week, Washington Technology, and so on.

There are also popular e-publications (FedInsider, Washington Executive, Bisnow, Fierce IT and others), blogs and other news sources that have become popular.

And, of course, radio- especially Federal News Radio and www.FederalNewsRadio.com.

Make a long list and give each media source an A, B, or C, with A being most desirable, and C being towards the bottom of the list, but still on the list.

For each media outlet, you need to understand a couple things: what audience the publication or radio station/show serves and what you bring to the table that serves that audience. You need to be a tight fit for whichever media you target.

What you bring to the table needs to include some distinct elements. You need to be an expert in your field, preferably a legitimate exert. It helps if you have a track record of sharing your knowledge in other venues: speeches, articles, books, blog, videos, and so on.

It also helps if you have a distinct point of view, a slant on your market niche that offers a somewhat unique perspective. The more you study and learn about your area of expertise, the more likely you have a point of view.

You also need to know what the editorial schedule is for publications. Print publications have these; e-publications may not. Match your expertise with the editorial schedule. Then start your campaign to be included in that issue at least 90 days before the issue is due out.

A key element in all of this is knowing the editors and reporters, and knowing their work. Before you pitch any idea to any editor or reporter, read the last 3 months of their work. This helps you to understand what they cover and how they cover it.

You need to know who to develop relationships with in the media and understand what the media person expects from that relationship.

But what you really need to do is get some PR for you and your business!

Confused? Overwhelmed? Now it may be time for the suggestion.

At least twice a year the Government Market Master program at Capitol College (www.capitol-college.edu/gmm) will host our PR for Small Business Workshop. PR pro Bill Holleran acts as the facilitator of this session and he will have guests from the media, from a PR firm (Joyce Bosc in April), and me.

The next session is April 16 from 8 AM-noon.  You can register at the above URL or email me for more details.

1 comment:

  1. I'm excited to join you on this panel because I believe that small businesses today have so many options to gain visibility given the media opportunities. We now have social media, new publications, new awards and more online media than we have had in the past. A smart small business can really get their piece of the media pie. They just need some solid tips and tools to make it happen. And that's just what they'll hear from us. It's extraordinary that you're lining up some great reporters for them to meet in person! I'm looking forward to it!