Getting positive publicity and creating good PR opportunities can be a struggle for a busy small business owner on a limited budget. Helping those in need during the holidays is a great way for them to do something to benefit someone else and create some great stories for press releases or increase name recognition for their businesses at the same time.
Give Back by Collecting Goods for Charities
Small businesses that don’t have any extra cash and very little extra time can give back by simply asking Toys for Tots or a local food bank about setting up a donation box for items they need in a prominent location in the store.
Hold Sales that Let Customers Give Back
Sometimes, customers get excited about buy one, get one free sales. Other times, they have no use for the second item. Stores that sell clothing or food items have a great opportunity to encourage those customers to buy sale items even if they can’t use them by having a buy one, give one free to charity sale.
Throw a Party to Help a Local Person in Need
While there are many different organizations that offer help to people in need, there are always a few people that seem to fall through the cracks. An elderly person who needs to have some yard work done or a family that lost everything in a fire may not be getting enough help. A small business owner who steps in to organize a party to benefit that local person in need can raise money to make the needed repairs and can show people that he or she truly cares about being a part of the community.
Throwing a party as a fundraiser can be fairly simple. The simplest way to do this is to ask guests to give donations, but some organizers prefer to sell tickets to the event or use other fundraising techniques instead. The important thing is to make sure the event is legal. For example, a small business owner planning to have a bingo night should double check regulations to be sure that local government officials don’t consider bingo to be a form of gambling.
Donate a Portion of Sales Receipts During a Specific Time Period
Business owners who sell goods and those who don’t sell a tangible product are both able to decide to donate a portion of their sales receipts to charitable organizations. A lawn care business owner could announce that he or she plans to donate five percent of all profits to a local park for new playground equipment. A pizza parlor might want to team up with a charity to have a theme night and then donate ten percent of all sales receipts from that event to a food bank.
When small business owners give back to their community, they don’t just create a great PR opportunity. They also strengthen community ties.
Small Business Advertising
Industry-specific publications are filled with information that can benefit small business owners, but they are often an overlooked source of publicity, too. Whether promoting new product launches, celebrating an important anniversary, or sharing technology advancements through an article, industry publications are an excellent way to endorse and advertise the expertise of a business – without paying for it.
Developing a Relationship with Industry Media
The key is to develop a relationship with the media that covers the industry. Lois Lane’s stories were front and center when Superman was mentioned in The Daily Planet, because she often had an insider tip about when and where Superman would appear next. Small business owners don’t have to know the man with the ‘S’ on his chest to get free publicity, but Lois did have the right idea. It’s important to develop relationships with the right people.
Small business owners might have the most exciting breakthrough ever to hit the industry… but if they’re not sending the information to the right person, they won’t see it in print. The first step in building successful relationships is to compile a list of contacts for television, print, and radio sources. Call the station or publisher to find the person responsible for the content that will be submitted. Find out what the guidelines for submission are – does the contact prefer e-mail, fax, or hard copies? Send an e-mail introducing the company or call the first time a press release is about to be submitted. Stay in touch to stay top of mind.
Consistency is the second step for solid relationship building. Small business owners should develop a media plan that outlines ideas for continued communication. Is there an anniversary coming up? Will the company be exhibiting at an upcoming trade show? Has the business web site been revamped? Be persistent – a publication won’t have room for a press release in every issue but by sending relevant information, business news will be published eventually. More importantly, don’t miss deadlines – the person who responds consistently and quickly to requests for information will find his company’s information front and center.
Communicating Effectively with Small Business Media
In the academic world, there’s an old saying: Publish or Perish. That old saying applies to the print industry as well. Review the editorial calendar of industry publications to see if an upcoming issue has a feature that fits. In addition, review the types of releases already being published in each publication. One magazine may publish personnel changes, another may not. By making a list of the appropriate categories and the types of information currently making it into print, small business owners will have a better idea of what to send each media source.
Becoming a technical resource is often an effective way to gain additional publication opportunities. If an editorial calendar lists an upcoming issue with topics that is the specialty of the small business, check with the media contacts to see if there’s an chance to write an article.
Whenever possible, include a photo when sending a press release. Photos can easily be attached to email. Common formats include jpg and bmp, and a resolution of at least 300 dpi ensures that the photo is high-enough quality for publication.
Small business owners don’t need to know the Man of Steel to keep their business name in front of potential customers. By utilizing the opportunities for free publicity offered by many media sources, they can reinforce their advertising message and gain exposure to a whole new audience.