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PR Secrets for Small Business

Most small businesses do little to no public relations (PR) to promote their businesses. The reasons are fairly common. No one within the small business knows the mechanics of writing a press release, and if they did, they don't know what to say. Instead, small business owners wait for a local reporter to stop by or for a trade publication editor to notice them at a trade show. Most small businesses are still waiting, but a select few luck into their moment of fame; and when it comes, Wow! what an impact it can have.

Since most small businesses don't do a lot of PR, the media is more responsive when they do. Media outlets typically get releases from big companies, so a release from a lesser known business will stand out. Here are a few secrets to getting your release picked up:

1. It can't read like sales copy! Put yourself in the reporter's shoes. Read your release and ask yourself "is this really news?" A press release that reads like a promotional flyer will never make it into print or prompt a reporter to call for an interview.

2. Create a good headline. This is your one chance to get a reporter's attention. Keep it short and catchy. Again, it can't read like a billboard advertisement or it will go in the trash.

3. Keep your release to one page typed at a 10 font double-spaced. Three to five paragraphs are enough. Don't tell your whole story because the purpose of the release is to spark enough interest that someone will contact you to write a complete story or schedule an interview. Do tell enough of the story so that it stands alone without further explanation in case someone uses it "As-Is."

4. Build a good distribution list. Identify the contacts of the media outlets for which you feel your story is best suited. Our firm distributes all PR directly to email contacts. If you can afford it, send a product sample or other physical information to specific media outlets.

5. Paste your release in your email message. Don't send an attachment to a media outlet. Attachments such as Word documents may be picked up by virus protection software, and your release will never make it to the intended recipient. Always put your contact information at the top of the release with the release date.

6. Get help. Although you may not need a full-time PR firm for day to day business, it could be worth the investment during the launch of new products or services. A PR firm will get you better results and save you time since it is their business. There are also many good freelance writers who can help create press releases. A well-written release can get you a lot of mileage.

Long-term PR can really impact the bottom line. People read and listen to stories more than advertisements. If done properly, PR can put your company in a very high profile position. The recognition can impact existing customers and help bring in new ones. Often your partners and vendors feel a positive affect from your PR as well. By following these simple guidelines you should have a foundation to get PR started for your business.

Doug serves as the Ringmaster for Edge Marketing overseeing the business operations. His passion is for helping small businesses and start up companies achieve their revenue growth goals. Doug serves as Executive Director of Entrepreneurs Alliance of Indiana and sits on the board of the Business Marketing Association of Indianapolis, Rainmakers Marketing Group and Crossroads Communications (Radio Station Cluster).

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