How To Use Public Relations: A Small Business Owner’s Guide

Public relations. Public relations actually comes first before advertising. PR plants the seeds, and marketing harvests the crop. I did this totally backwards. When I started Postcard Mania, we weren’t in the news, I wasn’t looking to create any publicity or PR capers in any way, shape, or form. We just marketed our little butts off, and as I told you earlier, we started doing these pro bono postcards, and that started to get us in the media. And then we made the Inc. 500 List, and that got us into the Inc Magazine, and we saw how much inflow of business we got from that PR effort, that mistake of PR effort that we found out by accident.

And then we really put some effort into getting us into the media. There are different ways to do it. Usually, if you’re a national firm, it’s easier to hire a PR company to get into the media. If you are local, there are things that you can do on your own. You can do anything on your own. We do all our PR internally, but we do have a full-time staff member that’s all she does. You can see her walking around, Amanda. She gets us in the news and magazines. In old school PR, you basically wrote a press release, and you would send it out to a huge database of different editors and publishers and different publications that are in your industry or where you want to be. That still does work to a degree, but today social media is very closely connected to publicity and PR, and it’s used quite a bit.

Is everybody familiar with Twitter? So now you get up to 130 characters to give your very pithy pitch to, and you have to be following the right people and have them following you in order for them to read your pitch. It’s really changed quite a bit. One of the things that you can do, if you want to get PR yourself, it’s not that the old PR doesn’t work, you just have to be adept to the new rules of marketing and PR. There’s a really great book. It’s called, “The New Rules of Marketing and PR”, and it’s by David Meerman Scott. Even the data in that book is getting antiquated a bit, but it’s really the beginning of social media and how it works. He basically bashes all forms of other marketing, which is just not true. Old school marketing is still totally working, but what you can do, if you’re a business to consumer type business, you can look at the local stations and magazines in your area, and you can pitch to them something you feel is newsworthy.

I’ll just give you an example. Does anybody have a day spa? Well, if you have a hair salon or a day spa and you can do an event, where you’re going to do makeovers for women in a domestic abuse shelter, and the news will want to cover that so you’re doing something that’s for survival, but also newsworthy on a local basis. So you can come up with some kind of a caper that your local news will find interesting if you let them know about it when it’s going to occur; and hopefully you’ll get people to cover it. If you don’t get anybody there to cover it, it’s important that today you video it, you have a video clip that you submit to them.

You can friend them on Facebook, and you can share your video with them on their wall. There are all kinds of ways of getting your message to the media now, so you can take advantage of that old school publicity. TV is still amazing. If you’re a business to business industry, you can find trade magazines that your customers read, and honestly, if you write the whole story and it’s a “how to” and it’s not a sales pitch story, it’s just really good data that anybody could use and help them with their business, they are always looking for content, and they probably will publish your story.

In the bio there will be a link to your website, and that positions you as an expert in your field. I see you’re nodding your head, you’re VMware. Is that what it’s called? Is it services where people who buy this software from Microsoft and you help customize it? VMware Business Owner: Yeah. Joy: VMware? VMware Business Owner: Companies buy VMware.

Joy: Companies buy VMware, and you help them install it and customize it. Joy: So the thing is, I know that when somebody buys a Microsoft package if they’re an enterprise size company, it can sit on the shelves for a really long time if they don’t know what they are doing, and there are trade magazines that these guys read all the time. If you’re just helping them, you could get easily published because you have something that is quite niche, when there’s a lot of missing information for people..

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