When is the best time to think about promoting your business?

pressme-clock-01The phone rings. I answer it. It’s someone who’s just started a business. They could have invested in premises, in vehicles or equipment. They could have taken out a business loan or borrowed money from elsewhere. They’ve planned, trained and prepared and now they’re open for business. But no one knows they exist and they’re desperate to get some coverage in the local paper. They need paying customers.

Is this their marketing plan?

Sadly, this happens a lot.

So when is the best time to think about promoting your business? When you start to plan your business.

Attracting the number of customers you need for your business to be viable could take a long time. If you can, start creating awareness before you launch. It’s not always possible, but when you’ve got a heavy machine to get moving, the earlier you push start it and get it rolling slowly, the easier it will be to keep it going.

You don’t have to do a lot. Maybe add news to your web site, send a press release to newspapers when you’re ready, start social media activity, distribute brochures and business cards to stir up interest in your venture. Awareness of your business will start to grow.

It’s never to early to promote your business.

We don’t want any publicity, thank you

Today in my role as business journalist, I phoned to ask a professional firm for some industry comment. The receptionist came back and said they didn’t want to provide any. That was fine with me, because three other firms did want to respond.

Now those three other firms are likely to have their names mentioned in a newspaper for their clients and other businesses to see.

Is that worth anything to them?

Perhaps when someone is thinking of consulting a professional they will remember the names from the article or recognise one of the experts quoted from their accompanying photograph. A new client could generate £500 a year, £5,000 a year, possibly repeated year after year. And all for a few minutes to make a general comment.

I’d recommend making the most of any media opportunity like this. Some businesses are desperate to get into the press, so grab the chance if a journalist calls you.

If you’re worried about what to say, why not prepare an A4 sheet of paper that you can print out on paper or display on your PC if you do get called?

Add bullet points with basic information about what you do in your business. Then, if you start talking and lose your thread, you can use it as a prompt to return you to your point. You could even prepare sheets for different topics. And remember to add your name, title, business and web site or contact details. Make sure you get credited for your comment.

If journalists get to know that you are prepared to comment, they are more likely to call you. Then your name and your business will appear in media articles regularly and raise awareness.

What is that worth to you?

Posted via email from z2zine

Get the basics right to obtain press coverage

Here are some thoughts on how to improve chances of obtaining press coverage distilled from my experience of magazine and newspaper writing and editing since 1997.

1. Get news to the right person first time. Check out a publication to see what type of material it uses. Different journalists will cover different sections or topics: find out who deals with the type of news you’re sending. A sports correspondent won’t be very thrilled to receive a press release on innovations in the packaging industry. Many publications list the names and even contact details of journalists or you could even phone up and ask.

2. Submit your press release or news in good time. The deadline for inclusion could be days, weeks or months before publication. If you have time-critical news, eg to publicise an event on a specific day, make sure you get all the information in before the deadline, otherwise you’ll miss any opportunity of getting it publicised.

3. Make sure a press release is relevant to the publication. If it’s a local paper, customise the content to suit the readership in that area. Show how the news will affect local people or what’s in it for them. Local interest or relevance to the specific readership is important.

4. Put in basic facts, figures, dates and check them. Journalists aren’t psychic and don’t want to play guessing games.

5. Make sure that your story is of interest to readers, not just yourself. Sometimes it can be easy to forget that not everyone may share your excitement at your news, so be realistic.

6. Be available if a journalist wants original comment or further details. It’ll be a waste of time if your news is left out because they couldn’t reach you.

7. It’s natural for people new to public relations not to follow the above advice, but amazingly some PR professionals don’t either. If you use a PR consultant or agency, be certain that they target media effectively, are aware of deadlines and provide each publication with what it wants. Otherwise, why are you paying them?

That’s my view from the journalist side, which I apply when producing press releases from the PR side.


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