Make your business bloom

As Business Editor of a newspaper, I often received phone calls from people who had started businesses and realised that they hadn’t thought about how to tell everyone. Promotion is vital for start-ups and there are many ways of doing it when you don’t have a big budget. A business will never bloom if it’s kept in the dark.

Maybe you’ve opened a shop or an online store, launched a service or started manufacturing products. You’re good at what you do and you know it, but potential customers need to know too so they start buying fast.

Getting people to notice your business can be a big challenge with so many options available, but which ones should you use? At first, you won’t necessarily know what works best, so monitoring responses as you go along is important.

Start . . .

What’s available? Paid advertising, social media, PR, leaflets and brochures, direct mail, email marketing, blogging, radio and TV, events and exhibitions, networking and more, but it’s unlikely you’ll be able to manage or afford everything, even if they do all work.

Contact points

First, it’s good to have contact points for anyone who hears about your business and is looking to find out more or wants to buy. If you’ve got a shop or premises, you can do a lot with signage or otherwise a web site is the most obvious start. While you may want a big, sophisticated site, even a holding page giving your contact details – premises address, email and phone number – will help people to contact you. It’s also easy and free to create a Facebook page or open a Twitter or Instagram account. You can decide whether you want to build your presence on these networks as you go along. You can also give out business cards or printed leaflets to people you meet.

You might not be able to start with all the materials you would like, but, don’t worry, you can always build a bigger, better web site and get better brochures and business cards designed and printed. Few people start businesses with everything they want and marketing usually evolves.

Word of mouth

The main thing is to start, whether it’s simply telling your family and friends. Word of mouth is always effective. The more people who know, the more they are likely to tell people they know and spread the news about you even further. It’s free too and you can do it quickly. You don’t have to sell to everyone, so don’t feel anxious about people thinking you’re putting pressure on them. Think of the excitement you feel at starting your own business and use this to tell people your good news. Many people will be genuinely interested. Of course, if you have a special offer, an event or other activity you think they’ll be interested in, do mention it.

Networking

Networking meetings, where you meet up with other business owners to learn about and support each other, is another form of word-of-mouth promotion. There are usually one or two groups meeting in most areas and costs will vary from the price of a breakfast at an early morning meeting to annual membership, which could require you to attend  regularly. Do bear in mind the commitment to attend weekly or monthly. Networking works well for some types of business and some people love it, while others can’t stand it. Most groups allow you to go along as a guest for one or two meetings to try it out.

When it works well, you can build a far-reaching network so that when you talk to fellow networkers, they can recommend you to all their contacts with the potential to reach hundreds and even thousands of people.  

PR and advertising

Unless you need just one or two customers, it’s likely that you’ll need a lot more people to know about your business. Also, your market might not be local and need you to reach customers across the country or abroad. That’s where you’ll need to distribute publicity or advertising messages through printed newspapers or magazines or on the internet via your web site, social media services and directories.

There is so much you can do here, from free activities, such as sending a press release and photo to your local newspaper, to complex internet advertising campaigns. If you have little budget, you can run social media campaigns yourself, writing your own posts and sharing photos or video. Many small businesses do this themselves very professionally, although it does take a lot of time and effort. You may also want to advertise in local magazines or newspapers or in industry publications.

Persistence and patience

Whatever you choose, be persistent and patient. If you are extremely lucky or establish your expertise quickly, you’ll get an instant response, but for most of us it takes time to establish awareness of a business.

Whatever you do, keep doing something. If one activity doesn’t work, give it a chance. It’s unlikely that people will respond to or even notice one advert, social media post or other form of contact. They’ll need to see your brand again and again before they remember you.

Complexity

You can carry out most of these activities simply at first and develop them as your business grows, eventually reaching a stage where you need to employ specialists to build web sites, manage online advertising and handle the complexity of more advanced promotional activity.

But when you’re starting out, it’s important to get your business out there as soon as you can. Only then can it start to bloom.

• Robert Zarywacz writes for and about businesses as a partner in Zarywacz. His experience includes Technology Correspondent for a business magazine and Business Editor of a local newspaper. He co-developed the pressme service of fixed-price article, blog and press release writing for small businesses.

z2z.com opens fixed-cost copywriting online store

pressme | z2z.com

We work with all sizes and types of businesses and know that small businesses and SMEs need effective copywriting and promotion as much as big businesses. This is the reason we have launched our new pressme online store where you can buy fixed-price copywriting services.

Realistic copywriting service

pressme copywriting services are straightforward and transparent – for when you want a single article or a series of articles, blogs, case studies or press releases.

They are realistic too. Yes, in an ideal world we would all sit down and plan everything, but the reality of PR, marketing and communications is that opportunities often present themselves without warning and we have to decide whether to take them or let them pass. Grasping these opportunities inevitably means working to tight deadlines with no time for meetings, just pressure to get effective content written in time. That’s what pressme offers you.

Write up article – when you already have all the information

The pressme Write up article service gives you the option of providing all the information yourself, as you probably have most, if not all, of it already. Copywriters often say they want to go away to research and think while their meter ticks, but sometimes clients have all the information and want it shaped into a readable article that does the job. The pressme Write up article service does this for you.

Research and write – full article production

And if you do need full research and interviews, the pressme ‘Research and write’ product offers the complete process from scratch to completed article.

Copywriting for any business

Is pressme only for SME’s? That’s why we originally developed it, but we can see that it is useful to any size of business, so we will be delighted to write for any size of client using our pressme copywriting services.

A striking image

Image is everything. On Instagram, Facebook, everywhere you look, we are bombarded with images.

An outstanding image will catch your attention, but it has to be different to stand out from the thousands of other images you see every day.

That’s why the images you use on your web sites, for your PR campaigns and in your social media posts are so important.

Aircraft | Zarywacz @ z2z.com | copywriting, journalism, editing, PR, proofreading, events

Sorry, a plane just flew over then. I took a photo of it for you to see.

Of course, there are lots of freely available images, including clipart and some stock images, as well as stock photos you can buy, but do ‘idealised’ images make you look genuine?

Perhaps the worst use is of images of people to suggest a company’s staff. Why not use photos of real employees? Certainly, portraits of named employees with a short profile create more confidence that a business is genuine.

We’d always recommend using a professional photographer for portraits, although the high quality of phone and digital cameras does mean that anyone with an eye for imagery often has a good chance of taking a good photo. Then there are those photo opportunities which you can’t plan – look out for these and snap them with your phone or camera before they disappear.

In my journalist roles, I was always thrilled when I received a press release with a striking photo. Sometimes it meant that the story got prime position on the page because of the image. Editors want articles to look good in addition to being well written, entertaining and informative.

With a little thought you can come up with lots of interesting images for your blogs, social media, web sites and press releases.

Give us a ring if you want to chat about it – here’s our phone:

telephone | Zarywacz @ z2z.com copywriting, journalism, editing, proofreading, PR

Oh, the dialling code is 01271.

✪ Robert Zarywacz is a partner at Zarywacz. Tweet at @robert or call 01271 879100.

 

See you at OPEN FOR BUSINESS on Friday 2 March

OPEN FOR BUSINESS | COMBEbusiness Ilfracombe Devon

We are delighted to be active in organising this year’s OPEN FOR BUSINESS event for COMBEbusiness in Ilfracombe, Devon on Friday 2 March.

Support from the local and wider Devon business community for this year’s event has been fantastic and we hope everyone gets tremendous value from this year’s event.

Robert Zarywacz has been busy:

  • selling stand space
  • organising the speaker programme
  • preparing and managing production of the printed event guide
  • publicising the event in press releases and social media

He’ll be busy helping to keep the event running smoothly on the day and pleased to speak to as many people as possible.

If you need support with your business communications or organising events, please say hello.

You can register for your free place(s), including free lunchtime networking buffet at open-for-business-2018.eventbrite.co.uk.

Robert Zarywacz presents award

Robert Zarywacz presents Pluss Employer of the Year Award

Robert Zarywacz was delighted to be invited by Pluss, which supports people with disabilities into employment, to present its Employer of the Year Award in his capacity as Business Editor of the North Devon Journal. Robert is pictured (right) presenting the award to winner Ryan Brend of Brend Hotels with Marise Mackie, cluster manager at Pluss.

 

Back to school

#SillySeasonPR #13
Back to School #Silly SeasonPR

Back to school

And back to work, along with millions of others.

As more people get back to their desks, the PR machinery will slowly fire up and the flow of press release will increase.

Those businesses which have continued promoting themselves throughout the holiday will have taken advantage of the opportunities as other businesses wound down.

The press and media always need good content and comment, even over holidays. It can be a good time to obtain coverage.

If an article featuring you is posted online, you can link to it or refer to it at any time.

Thank you for reading our #SillySeasonPR posts.

Most of the hints and tips apply any time, so use them to boost your PR not only in the silly season but all year round.

Don’t be pushy

#SillySeasonPR #12

Don't be pushy! #SillySeasonPR

Don’t be pushy

“Come and interview us and we will give you an exclusive story.”

“This is our story and this is the angle.”

“I sent you a press release, but haven’t seen it in your newspaper.”

I’ve heard these a few times lately.

They don’t get you off to a very good start. I jump at the chance of an interesting interview or a good story and I’ve got a good nose for news and can usually tell (but not always).

Give yourself the best chance

Many press releases don’t get published.

This can be because they are:

  • irrelevant to the publication
  • inaccurate
  • an advert disguised as news
  • so poorly written that no one understands it
  • sent too late to meet the deadline
  • just not interesting

There are many reasons why they don’t get published, but don’t let being pushy be one of them.

How can I get my press release considered for publication?

  • Make it relevant – research the publication and tailor it accordingly
  • Check all the facts so that everything you say is correct
  • Don’t sell – tell a real story. Adverts aren’t news
  • Make sure it is well written. Let colleagues or friends read it to check they understand it
  • Send it in good time, especially if timing is essential, eg to publicise an event
  • Make sure it is interesting. Just because you are excited, doesn’t mean other people will be
  • Make yourself useful to journalists – help them do their jobs

If your press release is all of these things, it has a better chance of being considered for publication, but there is still no guarantee.

The editor could suddenly decide to reduce the number of pages in an issue so articles planned for inclusion will have to be left out.

Late news often arrives. A company making a lot of people redundant could take precedence over other news as could a company announcing a lot of new jobs.

However much we plan, we can’t tell what other news is going to come up.

Work with journalists

Journalists aren’t happy when they’ve been working on articles and their space is cut, so you won’t make them any happier by badgering them about including your press release.

The more helpful you are and the better the news you provide, the more likely a journalist will include it or try to give you coverage.

Being pushy will not help.

Your #SillySeasonPR #12 task is to review your press release to make it relevant, interesting and suitable for the publications you are targeting. Good luck and do ask any questions you have.

Tomorrow: ? Visit to find out

Use the content and tips in our videos and posts below to boost your business.

 

Offer comment

#SillySeasonPR #11

Offer comment #SillySeasonPR

Offer comment

Journalists and broadcasters are often looking for comment on issues.

On one occasion I contacted three architects and managed to get a comment from one. Guess who was featured in the newspaper along with a photo for a few minutes’ work.

How do I become a recognised authority on my subject?

  • Issue press releases offering genuine comment on a topical issue
  • Build relationships with journalists and let them know you can provide comment on your area
  • Add comment to your web site so that journalists searching online for comment will find you
  • Comment on topics on social media networks
  • Publish your own research and reports on your areas of expertise

You won’t necessarily get asked immediately, but when something does crop up needing a comment, journalists will know to contact you or can find you easily when they search online.

Your #SillySeasonPR #11 task is to think how journalists can discover your expertise. Good luck and do ask any questions you have.

Tomorrow: ? Visit to find out

Use the content and tips in our videos and posts below to boost your business.

 

Not all journalists bite

#SillySeasonPR #10

Not all journalists bite #SillySeasonPRNot all journalists bite

Are journalists special? No more special than other people, although some people can be frightened of them.

Should you take care when contacting a journalist? Just as much care as when contacting anyone else.

Should you phone or email them? That’s a good question. Some journalists hate being phoned, especially when they are busy. But wait a minute, do you hate being phoned when you are busy?

Remember too that when journalists want information or comment, they will call you at unearthly hours. In recent months, I have had calls to my mobile at 7am asking if I would take part in a live radio interview later that morning, while one Sunday evening I received a call from a journalist at 6pm. It’s all right to disturb you when they want something.

Ideally, it should be a balanced relationship, not one-sided.

As a business editor, I enjoy phone calls. I have picked up some interesting stories from unsolicited phone calls. If I feel a story is interesting and I am busy, I arrange a call for another day or ask the caller to email me details. I am happy for my phone number and email to be published in the newspaper.

What does annoy me is when people call about or email a story that is not at all relevant to my area of interest. I usually forgive business owners, especially those without much experience of PR, but get angry with PR professionals who ought to know better and should research their target audience more thoroughly. After all, the client is paying them for their expertise.

Also, just like everyone else, I don’t like being pestered.

Not every journalist thinks the same, so it is worthwhile checking out to see if journalists you are targeting have a preferred method of contact. Some will say, others won’t. Often, a brief email with your story ‘pitch’ can work better than a phone call, but who can tell? Some publications and journalists openly publish their phone numbers, so why not call them?

What’s the best way of contacting a journalist? There is no simple answer. However you choose to contact a journalist, be brief, explain your story clearly and accept that they might not be tempted to cover it.

What I can say is that this particular animal does not bite.

Your #SillySeasonPR #10 task is to think how best to contact journalists with your story. Good luck and do ask any questions you have.

Tomorrow: ? Visit to find out

Use the content and tips in our videos and posts below to boost your business.

 

The secret of pitching a story

#SillySeasonPR #9

The secret of pitching a story #SillySeasonPR

The secret of pitching a story

One week I wrote newspaper articles about a new financial services company, a new shop with a community mission, a business celebrating a 30-year anniversary and a business exporting high quality, hi-tech products.

How did these businesses pitch their stories?

  1. Email to the newsdesk
  2. Press release sent to the newspaper
  3. Facebook message direct to journalist
  4. Information given on a factory tour

What’s the best way to pitch your story?

The one that works.

Seriously, there are many ways to pitch a story and they all work for some people and don’t work for lots of other people.

The challenge is to find the way of pitching that works for your story, for you and the journalist you are targeting.

Be prepared

However you pitch your story, it’s essential that your pitch:

  • is short and punchy
  • is easy to understand
  • excites the person you are approaching

and, most importantly,

  • lets the story tell itself

Of course, your story does need to be interesting and exciting in order to do all this.

On my factory tour, it was a few simple facts about the company’s achievements that impressed me – no sales pitch, no boasts – just plain facts that spoke for themselves and made me think: “I want to write about that.”

Don’t wind journalists up

Sometimes people try to tell journalists what to do, what angle to take and insist that they visit to interview a senior person. This is not a good idea. It’s one thing to make suggestions, but another to tell journalists what to do in their own publication. Understandably, journalists get annoyed when this happens.

Invite rather than demand. Suggest rather than insist.

Let your business speak for itself

Surprisingly, many businesses talk about themselves without actually saying what they do or what they achieve.

When you pitch a story, show round a journalist or just talk about about your business, your message needs to be clear and straightforward. Don’t waffle or go into needless background that tires your listener or makes them want to end the conversation.

Don’t worry needlessly about how you contact a journalist, because if you get the pitch right, your story will sell itself.

Your #SillySeasonPR #9 task is to think of how to pitch your story in a few words that will make the listener ask to hear more. Good luck and do ask any questions you have.

Tomorrow: ? Visit to find out

Use the content and tips in our videos and posts below to boost your business.

 

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