How to produce publicity

March 9, 2015
Promote your business without spending a fortune by marshalling local resources and talent

Publicity plays a critical role in the overall success of a business. Offering an outstanding service that no one knows about doesn’t generate a great deal of income. Some entrepreneurs like P.T. Barnum (who is credited with saying “There is no such thing as bad publicity”) are natural born promotors and make it look easy to market a business or service. But many business owners find generating publicity to be difficult, time consuming, expensive and just plain exhausting.

Fortunately, growing the awareness of your company is possible with only a moderate investment of time, resources and capital. Business promotion can even be energizing and exciting by following a 3 step process for success:

  1. Decide what story about the business is worth sharing with others.
  2. Discover who would be interested in listening to the story.
  3. Use local tools and people to help tell the story A.F.A.P. (As Free As Possible).

Step 1: Develop a story to share with others.

Every business has a story to tell. Perhaps the business was created from a passion, or the business was resurrected after a period of decline. Maybe the business is dedicated to a cause, or is motivated to succeed due to a family member’s battle with illness. Whatever story a business owner is interested in sharing with others should be the basis for all publicity work. Defining and developing “Your Story” creates a clear, confident message that can easily be shared with anyone and everyone who’s interested. The story need not focus on the nuts and bolts of the business – publicity is about awareness and does not mean closing a sale. Publicity creates interest, and as many good salespeople will affirm, warm potential customers are far easier to close than cold ones.

I know an OCS operator who started his business because of a crazy obsession to always have the perfect cup of coffee at work. His passion for quality hot beverages was a very compelling story and he mentioned it to everyone he came in contact with. The more he shared his message, the more people asked him to provide a top quality OCS service. This gentleman now has a successful 10 year old company and enjoys every single day he gets to spend at work – all because he had a story he was willing to share with others.

Step 2: Discover who would be interested in listening to your story

Publicity, much like a snowball rolling downhill, gains momentum over time. Discovering who is interested in “Your Story” may seem to be a daunting challenge at first. But the more “Your Story” gets told, the easier it becomes to tell, and as it’s retold again and again, more and more potential customers become aware of your products and services! Start by Googling groups who are interested in the same things as your business. For example – If I were interested in starting a micro market business that focused on locally sourced fresh food selections, I would seek out local farmer’s market groups, growing co-ops, health clubs, Trader Joe fan clubs….. Anyone who may be glad to hear that a micro market stocked with local ingredients is available in their area. These people may be the very decision makers who would ask to have a micro market at their workplace.

Step 3: Use local resources to tell “Your story” A.F.A.P. (As Free As Possible)

Perhaps a video of “Your Story” would be a great way to spread the message of the company. Video productions are powerful tools, but they can be difficult to develop and expensive to produce. That’s where local help can come in handy. Search for students or volunteers willing to work in exchange for experience or credit on a project. Community colleges, vocational schools, drama clubs and local media centers all contain willing volunteers who would love to help you get “Your Story” on recorded media. Having a recorded message makes it easy for local broadcast outlets to feature your business in a feature or special.

Look internally for someone with excellent written communication skills or a creative marketing background to assist in producing “Your Story” in a text format. The story should be interesting to a broad segment of the population and written like a profile in a magazine. Focus on facts and give the writer some good quotes from you that are both memorable and personal.

Getting a family member or intern to start a social media campaign to share “Your Story” online can also be beneficial. The most important component of social media, as a publicity tool, is time. Posts need to be made regularly, daily in most cases. It can be a challenge for some business owners to work into their schedule, so paying a small stipend to an employee or getting a family member with a vested interest in the company to handle the social media aspect, with your input, is an ideal way to build awareness of your business.

The ideas and methods of generating publicity are certainly many and varied. But developing a story and spreading it locally can go a long, long way in helping a business grow and succeed.

“Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.” – Mark Twain from his novel, “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s court” 1889

“The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about” – Oscar Wilde