Real Small Business

If you've run a successful public relations campaign, you probably have just had a great article written about your small business. Should you wait for people to read it, see how great you are, and call you with their orders? Of course not!!!

The successful small business uses its press coverage as an integral part of its marketing campaign. Select these tips to learn more about how you can do this too.

Keep Track of All Your Clips

Get copies of everything written or broadcast about your company. If you are just contacting a handful of newspapers or magazines with your press releases, you can probably track down any articles with an observant eye or a couple of phone calls. Many publications have libraries where you can look up references to your company and see back issues.

It is much more difficult to track things yourself if you have initiated a broader press campaign. Instead, use a clipping service, which can find references to your company in thousands of publications and many TV and radio broadcasts. Expect to pay a monthly fee plus a moderate per-clip charge. You can find these companies listed under "Clipping Bureaus" in your business-to-business Yellow Pages.

Alert Your Audience

Go out, buy 50 or 100 copies of the magazine, tear out the article, and send it out with a brief note saying something like "Thought you'd like to see this. It ran in yesterday's Daily Bugle." And make sure that the note has a way to contact you.

Who should get a copy? Top customers and prospects, obviously. But don't stop there. Send it to your suppliers, the loan officer at your bank, your investors, professional colleagues, people you network with, and anyone else you want to have a more positive impression of your business. And don't forget about your employees -- post the article where everyone can see it.

Let key people know when you're going to be featured on a scheduled television report or radio broadcast. A day or two before the show is set to air, fax or e-mail a brief announcement:

"Tracy Jones, President of Zagnus Consulting, will be a featured panelist on tomorrow night's 'World of Small Business,' talking about ways companies like yours can exploit their PR efforts. The show starts at 8 p.m. on Channel 12. If you can't catch it, just drop me a note and I'd be happy to send you a transcript or videotape of the show."

Enhance Your Marketing Materials

Your press should become an integral element to your marketing materials. There are many ways to use your clips to enhance your image. Here are a few ideas:

    - Put copies of key press in your sales/information kit

    - Create a brochure from an article

    - Do a mass mailing of a reprint, accompanied by a sales letter

    - Use quotes from an interview in your marketing/sales materials

    - Hand out reprints at a trade show

    - Mention your articles in your company newsletter

    - Display framed copies of your articles in your lobby where customers who visit will see them

Use Press to Get More Press

This can be sensitive, since its bad form to send a copy of an article that ran in one newspaper to reporters at competing newspapers -- they'll wonder why you didn't contact them first. But in the right situation, an article can make you into a hotter story for someone who's been hesitant to give your coverage. So, if something's been written about you in a trade or industry publication, put it in your press kit to your local press - it will make useful background information. If you've had a feature written about your company in the local press, it may make you appear more legitimate to a national publication.

How to Get Reprints

It would be great if you could just make photocopies of any article written about you and use it as a marketing piece. Unfortunately, that would violate a publication's copyright. But there are alternatives. Many publications will grant reprint rights of certain articles for a modest fee. To find out what they charge and to sign a reprint contract, call their reprint department.

Other publications will put reprints together for you. These are often high-quality copies printed directly from the same plates used to produce the magazine or newspaper. It can also include your company's logo, address and phone number right on the tear sheet. Again, reprint departments can quote you a price.

If you've authored the article, you might be able to retain reprint rights or get copies as part of your contract. Negotiate this up-front with the editor.


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