Small business public relations tip: Be the expert

You run a business, and it’s a success. You worked hard to get there, and in some peoples’ eyes, you’re the best of the batch. Maybe you’ve developed some expertise that fuels your business. If you’re a farm-to-table restaurateur, maybe you’ve found the right sources, products, and recipes to set you apart. If you’re a graphic designer, maybe you’ve found the right components to make someone’s logo stand out.

One of the best ways to get publicity and exposure for your business skills and talents is by getting your name before the public’s eyes and ears. Be it in print, on radio, or TV, when you’re showcased by someone else, it’s great publicity for you and your business because it comes in the form of an endorsement.

So, be the expert.

Let the area media know what you specialize in. Offer to be the source they call when they’re covering an event, or trend, or news.  And, simultaneously, let your clients, customers, and colleagues know too.

• Develop a backgrounder, a mini-resume that highlights your experience, and your business experiences. If you have some good articles written about you and your business, put links to them in the backgrounder. If you’ve been interviewed on radio or TV, add those links. Also, provide links to your LinkedIn profile, your Facebook business page, and your Twitter account. And, if you’re making yourself a media source, include day and evening phone number, email address, and Twitter handle.

Facebook business page, you say? Everyone should have one that is separate from their personal page. Obviously, highlight your business activities. Also, offer some resources about the business. On my business page (Mark G. Auerbach Public Relations), I always highlight my clients’ activities, events, and accomplishments. I also source articles about marketing and public relations, to make my page a “go  to” for industry trends. But, I digress…

• Distribute your backgrounder to the appropriate media. Follow up with a telephone call, offering to be available as a source or resource on short notice. Who is appropriate? Start locally in your area and expand outward.

• Start blogging. Your blog should include the same information as your backgrounder. Make sure you blog regularly…at least once or twice a week. Short blog entries work, something as simple as “Check this out. I found a great website about ABC which will help my colleagues in my field.” Share your blog with your website, Facebook business page, Twitter account, and LinkedIn page.

• Consider connecting with an aggregate source like Help a Reporter Out, which links reporters with the experts they need for their stories. It’s a free service, part of VOCUS marketing software, started in 2008, and it’s used by many major national news agencies.

• Write a monthly column about the field you work in. Offer it free to area newspapers and magazines. The column shouldn’t be about you specifically. It should be about what’s happening in your field, or an advice column about your field to a broad-base consumer market. If you make the connection, and it’s your turn to be the expert, negotiate your billing, so you and your company get exposure. A client of mine, an integral health physician, contributes syndicated columns on health topics to newspapers and magazines. He has negotiated a tagline that mentions his website with a link, when possible.

This sort of strategic plan is labor and thought intensive. Put it in perspective. You could buy this kind of visibility in a newspaper ad for a fixed dollar amount (plus design and copywriting fees), and everyone will know it’s an ad. Or, you can be featured in someone’s article in the same newspaper, and generate credible word-of-mouth about yourself and your business, which is likely to be many times more valuable than the cost of the ad you’d written, designed, and bought.

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Mark G. Auerbach is principal at Mark G. Auerbach Public Relations, a Springfield, MA, based marketing, public relations, development and events consultancy. You can find more information about Mark at Facebook and LinkedIn.

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