The most interesting mistake that my company has made was our early decision to contract a P.R. agency for our public relations and marketing needs. Although the utilization of P.R. firms may work well for large corporations, it was not the best approach for a young start-up. Not only was the consulting extremely costly, the return on investment was minimal.
It became very clear, very quickly, that contracting out our marketing and public relations was not the most efficient avenue of stimulating brand awareness and it was critical for us to find a new method.
We decided to cut the P.R. firm we were working with and have since transitioned to an in-house marketing approach. Not only have we managed to save a ton of money, we have seen returns well over and above what was produced by the agency we were previously working with.
With the growth of the Internet and social media, it has become increasingly easier to contact both new and existing users, as well as media personnel, on a one-on-one basis.
Rather than paying a company to do our outreach for us, we decided to utilize the numerous free resources on the web in order to communicate directly with the people we want to reach out to. We have found this to be a much more effective technique for establishing the Pricefalls.com brand and attaining press coverage.
Other experts have also elaborated on effective ways for small businesses to generate a buzz about there business. For instance, in his book “The New Rules of Marketing and P.R.”, David Meerman Scott touches on the need for small businesses to “reach buyers directly”. This book is a great resource for small businesses looking to take their P.R. and marketing in house and viral.
It is crucial for a small business to have their voice heard. Here are two techniques that small companies can do in-house in order to generate more brand awareness and to market the business.
Technique 1 – Tell your story yourself
Rather then having a large P.R. firm generate and distribute your press releases for you, just write the press releases up yourself and distribute them on the various Internet based press release distribution networks. Here are a couple links to distribution channels that are pretty effective and at low cost:
(For a full breakdown of these services and some recommendations, see http://blog.journalistics.com/2009/what-press-release-distribution-service-should-you-use/)
These networks distribute your release across the web, and in many cases into the eyes of reporters who are will to cover the story. Furthermore, this method of distribution allows you to get your story in front of potential customers with a minimal (sometimes zero) cash investment.
Technique 2 – Let the Press come to you
Let’s face it, a reporters job is to investigate. It is crucial for the media to have stories to report on and they are always looking for something new to cover. However, rather then distributing the information you think the media wants to hear, it is much easier to attain coverage if you know what they’re looking for so you can craft your release around it. This is a great way to stimulate stories and it’s 100% free.
There are a number of resources that small businesses can utilize in order to gain insights into what types of stories the writers are looking to cover. One such resource is HARO (Help A Reporter Out). HARO is an email-based application that sends out inquiries from various reporters requesting information from individuals that they can use in their stories. Here’s a link to the site:
Those are just a couple of methods that can help small businesses owners get off the ground while trying to take their P.R. and marketing in-house. As mentioned earlier my company has been rather successful at using in house techniques to generate great press coverage. Below, I have provided links to recent press stories that our in house staff has been able to attain. We are always looking to connect with people in the industry and I am always open to talk further with other small business owners.
- NBC 3 (LASVEGAS) “Small businesses: The backbone of our local economy”, August 13, 2010.
- ABC 8(MAINE): “Bates Graduate Creates Site To Save People Money”, July 1, 2010
- LEWISTON SUN-JOURNAL “A dot-com is Born” February10, 2009