Friday, October 28, 2011

Damaria Senne - Generating free publicity for your business

Hi all a guest post from renowned Kensington author Damaria Senne. 

Generating free publicity for your business
I recently launched an ebook entitled “How to get quoted in the media” and I’m sure some small business owners are wondering how that applies to them. Sure they want to advertise their products and services, but what does that have to do with articles where they get interviewed by journalists?  And would journalists even be interested in their stories?
The truth is that making that link between your small business and news items is not easy, but it can be done. How?
  1. Identify whether you are in a new or growing industry
Say you’re a transcriptionist or virtual assistant: how many people in your town/even in your country know what a virtual assistant is or what she does? If you live in South Africa, not many people know about virtual assistants, making your industry newsworthy by virtue of its newness.   Is it a growing industry? Definitely! As more people access the Internet, start their own businesses online and offline, there is a growing need for more virtual assistants who can do the work when needed regardless of their location.
And if you don’t work in a new industry (e.g. you offer HR services to small business), no worries, it doesn’t mean that you can’t generate free publicity through news items for your business.
  1. Generate story ideas out of the nature of your business
Offhand, I can think of the following:
Small business news – as a business owner in a certain niche, you know best the research that is being done in your industry. For example, how has the growth of Internet access worldwide affected the growth of number of virtual workers ( including virtual assistants). How does that affect people in South Africa? That kind of story would probably interest a small business publication. Or if unemployment is a big issue in your town, you could pitch a story on virtual work as an option. The focus of the story would be unemployment, and you’d make it clear to the reporter that you expect them to focus on interviews with the local experts on the matter. However, your part is to offer a possible alternative. Shows you understand that community news is not about you but introduces you as a thought leader.
 Lifestyle news- Lots of articles have already been written about the work –at-home brigade: how we have flexible hours, can work in our pyjamas, take care of our children while we work etc. Is there anything fresh that we can still say? I think so.  So far, it’s the advantages that are being punted strongly. But what are the disadvantages for the workers: the loneliness, the long hours?  Are we telling people who want to consider working from home/who already work from home how to cope with these issues? Are we painting a realistic picture and giving people the tools to cope?
Your product stories – As my co-author Christelle du Toit and I say in our latest ebook, How to get quoted in the media, please don’t try to tell a journalist how wonderful and innovative your product is. That is the fastest way to kill a story, because everyone selling a product or service tells a journalist theirs is the innovative product. But, you can sell yourself as a thought leader in your community for the industry your product belongs to. Say you sell cosmetic products: why not pitch some skin care/hair care story ideas to your local health and beauty editor? For example, suggest that she do a story on how local men like well-made up women versus natural looking women. That kind of piece should get a laugh out of your community’s readers, mostly because the people involved know each other. And such an article is better than one more trite piece culled selling not so new trends from international magazines.
  1. You are a story
Does your local newspaper/magazine publish profiles of local people? If so, find out what their criteria are and whether they would be willing to do a profile of you. This is especially relevant if you recently did something different (I’m selling the fact that I wrote and published a book) / won a prize.
In your pitch, show why locals would want to know about you. And don’t try to sell your products, just focus on the profile itself.
In conclusion, making the link between your business and publicity will require you to do some deep thinking, and to tailor each story idea for the person you are approaching. And yes, I had to do some deep thinking about what would be relevant for people reading Gaynor’s blog before I wrote this piece. You deserve more than just a cooker-cutter story.
Some story ideas will work; others not so much. You will just have to be persistent because the publicity will get more interested in your business, which will eventually lead to more sales, making you money.
Author Biography
Damaria Senne is a writer based in Johannesburg. She recently co-wrote an ebook with Christelle du Toit entitled:” How to get quoted in the media.” The ebook is available for download at her online store (link to online store!/pages/Damaria-Senne-Media/123235287780213?sk=app_109411145786630.) You can also download a free sample at her online store. Learn more about Damaria at her blog called Storypot (link to Storypot

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