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How to Use Publicity to Promote Your Business

A well-managed publicity campaign can bring big benefits at low cost.

If you need a way to promote your small business without spending a fortune, include publity as one of your marketing tactics. For publicity to work, however, it needs to be done carefully. And if you want the effects to last, you should strive to become a media source, not just have your business appear as the subject of a one-time feature.

To Get Started, Here Are Two examples of How To Use Publicity:

If you are a paint store, you could describe the season’s newest colors and tell people how to spice up their homes for peanuts by sprinkling the new colors on accent walls, trim, etc., while picking up the new colors in draperies, pillows and other accent pieces for a totally new look. You could send readers to your website for great how-to photos and a coupon.

A fashion retail store could describe how runway fashions are being interpreted on Main Street, or by issuing a press release about five items you absolutely must add to your wardrobe this season. Again drive readers to your website for mix and match ideas and a special 10 or 20 percent off coupon for people who spend over a certain amount.

Tips to Remember:

  1. Study the publication carefully to understand the types of articles it runs. Publicity: Woman with newspaper
  2. Identify a trend related to your expertise and show how it affects the media’s audience.
  3. Develop a list of key tips and ideas that would interest the readers of a newspaper or magazine. Present your list in a well-written press release with a compelling headline, a powerful lead or first paragraph, and a summary paragraph that pulls the list together. Limit your press release to one double-spaced page.
  4. Make sure the trend or list leaves people wanting more. Drive the readers to your website for more ideas or suggestions on how to implement them.

Get your message out using publicity by:

  • Sending a press release to a specific beat reporter or desk editor.
  • If you write well, volunteer to write an article as a guest expert.
  • Create a media kit on your website, just like most corporations do, and include every press release you issue on your website with the date it was issued.

Send your press releases to and other online media. But before you send a press release, check to see if the Publication issues submission guidelines. Make sure your release complies.

Nurture Your Media Contacts


Keep in mind that reporters and editors are very busy people. Do everything you can to make their lives easier. If you are suggesting a trend piece, consider other experts or trade associations they should also interview to flesh out the story. Include the names, phone numbers and email addresses of your contacts to make it easy for them to reach people who can provide additional information and great quotes on the topic you are suggesting.


Make sure you get their name and title right before contacting them. Avoid the crunch times leading up to their deadlines. As a marketing consultant working with a client, I like to send an intriguing press release or media kit first, and follow up with a brief, well-timed phone call to see if they need any other information. Always make sure you are available after you send your release and get back to the reporter as quickly as possible, when contacted, to answer their questions.


Money Can't Buy Media Coverage


Publicity: image of a newspaperMedia coverage is so valuable because there is no amount you can pay to guarantee a story. It has to be compelling, fresh and timely. Your story could be great but not get covered because the Paper carried a similar piece last month. Or it might have a wonderful angle, but it arrived the same day as the plane crash that half the news room was pressed into covering.


Think of your planning for publicity as a long-term strategy. You are building a relationship with the media that may not pay off every time you send a release, but that will reap benefits longer-term in the way your company is perceived by the editorial staff and their readers.


So take the time to identify a number of potential newsworthy items geared around your other marketing strategies. Issue press releases regularly to gain publicity, but make sure each one is worthy of the media’s attention.


Marcia Ming

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