How To Generate Publicity For Your Business

How to Generate Publicity for Your Business

Focus on Storytelling

What stories can you tell about your business. I spoke this week to a group of arts, tourism and cultural organizations at Cultural Tourism DC's annual conference in Washington, DC. (Members range from Smithsonian Institution Directors to jazz clubs to tiny art galleries and film festivals). When cultural organizations approach social media, they can't go for the hard sell because arts marketing is more about storytelling. Take a cue from these organizations and focus on the story behind your service or product. Can you give your audience a behind-the-scenes view? Can you offer online previews to build buzz before a big event?
Lights, camera... (Image: Thinkstock)

For many entrepreneurs, identifying a newsworthy angle prior to pitching the media can be one of the biggest obstacles to generating publicity. It’s not enough to tell the media about your business, you have to tell them what makes your business notable and newsworthy. This is called finding your news hook.

If you’ve ever contacted a member of the media about your product or service, you may have set your sights on a media outlet, identified a reporter and even located the reporter’s contact information only to have nothing to pitch. Here are five traditional hooks you can use to brainstorm your news angles before pitching a reporter.

Grand Openings and Launches: Especially for local media, a grand opening or launch can be an easy sell. In this economy, business reporters are always looking for new businesses launching in town. If you’re an author or expert, your book release can be newsworthy – particularly if your book is on a hot button or time-sensitive topic. But don’t let your launch news get stale. Remember to contact the media as early as possible – don’t wait until your business has been open for months or your book has been on the shelves too long – reporters want to know when the business or book is new.

Personal Triumph or Transition: Editors and producers love to tell their readers and viewers a good story. Often times business owners have compelling tales of what led them to start their business ventures, but they get so caught up in sharing information about the product or service, that they miss the personal story angle. Whenever possible, personalize your business with your story – describe how you were inspired to make the leap, your aha moment or breaking point. Did you leave a great career as a pediatrician to make shoes for children in Africa? Did you go from homeless to six figures in one year? Think about what has happened in your personal life (or in the lives of clients whose lives you have helped transform) that may make an inspirational story for others pursuing their business dreams. It may be a good idea to journal about what really made you start your business – did deep and try to uncover any hidden motivations.

Numbers that WOW: A track record with customers is something new companies have to build up to for sure, but once you have it, it will get you far with editors and producers. The media loves WOW numbers, so think about what kind of numbers you have that you can use to woo the media. Have you helped hundreds of women lose weight and tone up this year at your fitness studio? Have you empowered thousands of stay at home moms at your sales seminars? Have you helped hundreds of customers find lasting love through your matchmaking service? Does your lawn fertilizer grow lawns 70% faster than any others on the market? Dig into your business for percentages and other numbers that tell your company story.

The Only One or The First: What do you have that no one else has? Do you have a rare product or service that’s getting great results? Don’t necessarily think that just because something is being done in other places, it’s not news if you do it. If you’re the first business in your town to offer a hot new product or service that’s making national news, your business is ripe for local publicity.

Milestones and Anniversaries: One of my clients is a cancer survivor who started a non-profit organization to help women who are struggling to beat the odds against cervical cancer. Last year, when she celebrated 10 years being cancer free, we used that as a hook to book media placements for her organization and to get the issue of cervical cancer back on the media’s radar. If you have an organization, you may scramble to find news after your first few years, but each major anniversary is a chance to tell the media what you’ve accomplished.