When it comes to public relations, a dream placement might getting on the front page of the New York Times or nabbing some camera time on “Good Morning America.” But reality is, those are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. Get PR to grow your business by working the media in your own backyard – your local press.
Why focus on local PR? First of all, reaching out to your local newspaper, magazine or TV news station is gonna be whole lot easier than calling up Oprah.
Secondly, local press almost exclusively cover local stories, and guess what? You’re a local biz! This gives you a big edge over your out-of-town competit
Third, you’ve got readily accessible, happy customers who can do a lot of the talking for you, since some of your first and most loyal clients probably live in the same area you’re in.
Here’s another bonus: Being known and talked about in the community might even catch the attention of the big media guys, because you’ve already established some street cred and buzz!
Here are five ways to nab some homegrown publicity for your biz:
1. Bring On That Warm and Fuzzy Feeling
There’s a reason why even huge brands like Levi’s and Target help out non-profits and charities on a regional level. Everybody loves a story that makes ’em feel all warm and fuzzy inside, including local media. Do something that helps an organization that’s already well known and maybe even has its own PR team you can leverage, like the regional Habitat for Humanity or Boys & Girls Club.
2. Be the Local Spin on a Big, National Story
Read the national headlines on a regular basis to see if there’s anything you can attach your business or expertise to. Regional journalists are always looking for local angles on big stories that are being talked about all over the country. Is it expected to be one of the coldest winters of the decade? If you’re in the construction business, offer up tips on how people can insulate their homes and save on gas or electricity bills. Gold prices on the rise? If you’re in the jewelry business, speak up and let the press know how it’s affecting you on the local level.
3. Get Creative With a Stunt
Whether it’s breaking a new record or setting up an ice rink in the middle of downtown on a hot summer day, the best PR stunts are interactive, fun and interesting visually. (The press love great video, photos and/or sound bites; in fact, broadcast media – TV and radio – often require it.) Just make sure that your stunt is relevant to your business. If you’re a hardware store, baking a 50-pound pizza might just confuse people, but if you own the corner pizzeria or an Italian restaurant, it makes much more sense, right? Bonus: If you can sell slices and donate sales to a local charity – see tip No. 1 – that’s an even better story!
4. Leverage the Local Movement
With programs like Small Business Saturday by American Express that celebrate small business and entrepreneurship, there’s more attention than ever before on supporting the little guys. Take a leadership role and rally your fellow small businesses, and the press might pay attention. A few idea starters:
We’ve all gotta start somewhere! Connect with the local Chamber of Commerce and other businesses, and see if they’d be interested in a community effort.
Brand the campaign or program with a name and logo. You might be able to get a local designer to do it at a reduced cost or even for free.
Connect with Fellow Small Businesses
Create an email campaign that highlights all of your offers to draw more people to your city or town. Share it with local businesses and ask them to send it out to their email lists.
Spread the word online and offline. Set up a Facebook group, send postcards to residents, and distribute decals with the effort’s name and logo to local business owners so they can display them in their store windows.
Organize a Special Event
Coordinate a “walk” where businesses in town offer shoppers special promotions for one night only, or for a limited time. Ask the local school band to provide music. Local press love covering these types of events, especially if there’s a lot of activity around for them to photograph or video. Just make sure you’re the spokesperson for the event!
5. Put Faces to Names
Believe it or not, journalists are people, too. Get to know them and you’ll increase your chances of coverage. Track who’s covering what; you don’t want to pitch the entertainment reporter on your latest wine vintage. Don’t forget your local bloggers; they’re usually easier to approach, and traditional journalists often follow blogs for potential stories. Many of these folks are active on social media, so if you are, too, re-tweet and comment on their posts once in a while so that they become familiar with your name, your company and your area of expertise.
Local PR is a great way to generate awesome public awareness of your business, and it’s not as difficult as you might think. Put these tips to work and rev up that publicity machine!
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