Category Archives: press release

Highlights from “Big Publicity Ideas for Small Business” Webinar featuring Peter Shankman.

PRWeb’s “Big Publicity Ideas for Small Business” webinar featuring Peter Shankman was a fast paced, entertaining ride that packed more punch than Kool-Aid Man himself.

Some takeaways from the webinar include:

  • Unless PR (or marketing, advertising, etc.) is generating revenue, it’s not worth it.
  • Don’t let budget constraints keep you from a great idea.
  • If a funeral home can actively use social media and make it relevant, you have no excuse.
  • SEO is not utilized by small businesses and it should be. People are searching – you should be there.
  • You need to talk TO the audience, not AT them. This is true in social media as well as in marketing and PR. I would also say talk WITH them.
  • Treat customers well and they will tell the world how great you are. Make them feel they cut the line and have special access.
  • Ask your audience how they want to receive information and then do that.
  • When pitching media, do not say in the email subject line “Quick question for you.” There are no quick questions and they are busy.
  • Know your audience, keep the pitch short, use trends.
  • Journalists are busy. Give them helpful information and make their job easier. Offer your network as sources.
  • Ask “what’s in it for me?” from your audience and the media’s perspective. Provide value and you will build loyalty. Loyalty brings revenue.
  • When MTV was a music channel, the average attention span in the 80s was three minutes. Now it is 2.7 seconds!
  • Learn to write. Good writing is brevity. Bad writing has the potential to destroy your business. Social media requires that you write better.

I searched for other summaries of the webinar and only found one. Amy has good points about the webinar and wrote about it in her post “The Peter Shankman School for Kids Who Can’t Write Good.

One other great site for getting publicity is Peter’s Help A Reporter Out. Sign up – it’s free – and journalists send their queries for upcoming stories. Remember the advice here if you send a pitch! Enjoy and good luck small businesses everywhere!

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Five Low-Cost Small Business PR Tips

Getting the word out about your latest company news whether it is a new product announcement or customer win is tough. If you don’t have a marketing or public relations department in-house, use a freelancer or outside agency, the task can be daunting. Where do you begin?

First, make sure what you are going to announce is newsworthy. Write your press release with all of the key components of who, what, when, where, how and why included in the first paragraph. This way if it is edited, all of your important news is included.

Once you have a release that is ready to go out, set up an account on Pitch Engine. It is free and you can create and distribute compelling social media press releases online. It even appears on Google News when it is posted.

What is a social media release? It is simply your press release with relevant links to graphics, video, web site links, etc. It offers a wealth of information for those interested in finding out more about your company.

You should also have a targeted media list of relevant contacts in your industry and for local, regional and business news, if relevant. Building your list is an ongoing project and if you don’t have a subscription to a database like Vocus or Bacon’s, you can still build it from going to media web sites and finding the journalist that covers your particular industry. Be sure to read a few articles to make sure they are the right person to contact.

Once you have this list, also send a short pitch with bullet points and a link to your Pitch Engine press release. Include your contact information as well and don’t include attachments. When writing your pitch, think from the perspective of the journalist and ideally, their readers – “What’s in it for me? Why should I care about this?” To learn more about pitching, check out the Good Pitch BlogBad Pitch Blog and see an example of a great pitch on Peter Shankman’s Help A Reporter web site.

You can also post your press release on a blog, include keywords as tags and then go to Technorati and claim your blog. This helps when people search your industry keywords. WordPress offers free blogs and a neat dashboard feature to track web traffic.

Set up a free Twitter account and find and follow people in your industry. Listen and engage in conversation – not to sell but to be part of the community. Offer expert advice and links to relevant industry news. LinkedIn also has a question and answer section where you can help people with relevant questions in your industry.

If you want to take it a step further and try to pitch journalists looking for story sources, subscribe to Help A Reporter (HARO) a free PR newsletter, and look for relevant queries. There are strict rules and if someone pitches off topic, you will be removed from the list.

And that is a great start into the world of public relations. Small steps. It is also a doorway into social media – the best way to learn it is to try it. One step at a time. You might like it!

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PR Tip: Lose the Wire and Use PitchEngine for Social Media Releases

Until this year, I followed the basic PR process when issuing a news release. Write a news release, upload to wire service, spend hundreds of dollars and hope it gets picked up.  Not a very solid or results-oriented process. Of course, you have to build media relationships and target the news with the people who cover the category. That is another topic entirely.

A few weeks ago I discovered PitchEngine through Twitter. (These two services are my favorite new social media tools for 2008, by the way.) I read that you could create and issue a social media news release for free. Working for a small company, I will try anything that is free or a low-cost alternative to a pricier and non-proven model.

I have since issued about six releases and I am blown away by how easy they are to create, distribute and measure. You can provide so much more information the way people want to see news – visually with images and videos. Tie-in links to product reviews and case studies. A boilerplate created once for the company is saved for future releases. It is also served up in a neat, clean format that is sure to appeal to corporate brand sticklers.

My first release had over 200 views. I have since used PitchEngine over the other wires and I’m not looking back. I’m going wireless!

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Five Public Relations Tips for Small Businesses in a Down Economy

I was thinking about small businesses and how they are especially hit hard in a down economy. I wanted to post some tips that you can do for free that will help continue your business building efforts even in a recession.

1) Get local with search. – Make sure your company is listed in Google and Yahoo local directories. They are free and you can even link to your web site.

2) Get local in business/service directories – with directories like Angie’s List and CitySearch popping up, be sure your company is listed in the relevant local directories. Be sure to ask customers to write a recommendation for your company as well.

3) Build a local media list at smaller newspapers and start a relationship. Offer advice, take a reporter to lunch. Local media is easier to reach and if you are doing neat things with the community, be sure they know about it. Having an event for charity? Send a media advisory.

4) Remember your employees. PR isn’t all about outside relations – make sure your employees are motivated and happy. You can reward them with small things like praise (employee of the month/quarter), pizza in the office for a job well done, etc.

5) Discover social media. Start a blog on WordPress and talk about your industry, not just the company. Give tips, advice, general observations. Sign up for Twitter, a microblogging site, and follow people that interest you and join the conversation. Create an account in LinkedIn and Facebook and reconnect with old friends and colleagues. You can even ask business questions in LinkedIn and answer others’ questions and be seen as an expert in your field.

6) Okay, I said five but here’s a bonus tip. Sign up for Help A Reporter.com‘s newsletter and get PR queries from journalists looking for sources. But be sure if you answer, that your pitch is on target, short and sweet and do not send attachments. Include contact info in your email and links if needed.

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Press Release Grader – Check Your Press Release Instantly

Here is a cool new tool from Hubspot, a Cambridge, Massachusetts company that helps small business build their online presence.  Now you can have an expert double check your press release at no cost!

Cut and paste your press release into the window at: http://www.pressreleasegrader.com, complete the form and click on “Grade Press Release.” In a few seconds, you will see your score and a list of suggested improvements.

For all of us small business PR people, we thank you Hubspot!