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"'Ask the Small Business Professor' is a must read for small business owners looking for free expert business advice. Using a Q&A format, Bruce Freeman covers important small business topics weekly by bringing in recognized experts on subjects including accounting, legal issues, trademarks marketing and sales. Don't miss it!"
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Public Relations Essentials
Dear Professor Bruce:
As a small business owner, I have little or no money available to promote my product or service. Can you suggest some opportunities to get the word that won’t cost me "an arm and a leg"?
Most entrepreneurs know that good public relations are necessary if they want to sell their products and services. Public relations, and the narrower focus of media relations contribute to the environment of your overall marketplace.
There's no substitute for the most powerful marketing tool known: word of mouth. However, if you rely exclusively on it to make your business a success, you're taking a big risk. The reason it's so risky is that word of mouth is effective, but it's inefficient. This is where the media comes in. The media has the power to get the attention, information and reputation of a company across to many potential customers at one time, but the question is: How are you going to get the media’s attention.
Here are some tips to help you get the word out about your company:
- Local town newspapers cover local town material. When you have something to say, send a short (two or three paragraph) press release--no fancy form is necessary. For example, your local paper will usually print a release about a business expansion or the addition of new personnel.
- Get the names and contact information of the business editors of regional and major magazines and newspapers. Call the editors to introduce yourself and your business and offer your expertise to them if they're ever doing a story which relates to your particular area.
- Editors always need sources, especially when a big story is going down. Even if you own the local plumbing franchise, you may be called by an editor to comment when the county sewage system backs up.
- Get to know the editors in your field. If you have a small widget store, get to know the editors of Widget World, Widget Today or whatever publication that speaks to your particular market.
- If possible, get a Web site and get it in order by linking to other sites. Web sites are a wonderful public relations tool: They don't cost much to keep running (as little as $30 per month), and they make your business look modern and savvy.
When your business gets to a certain size, you'll need to hire a professional firm because you will want exposure in larger markets. You also won't have time to use these strategies; you'll need someone who has specific expertise and relationships with the media that you don't have time to form.
For further information, visit www.ProlinePR.com.
Most entrepreneurs know that good public relations are necessary if they want to sell their products and services.