If you work at or run a start-up company or an established small business, you know that getting positive attention from the media with any frequency is a real challenge. For every emerging or mature small company that’s mentioned or featured in a business publication, news site or blog, there are scores of others who are shut out time after time.
News helps drive media coverage. But start-ups and small-to-medium sized businesses can’t let their lack of frequent breaking news be their Achilles heel when it comes to visibility and generating awareness. Not that the media considers everything that’s announced in a news release to be coverage worthy (hardly). But most small companies, unlike larger publicly traded ones, will never realize the PR benefits a steady stream of new product announcements, customer wins, executive appointments, company expansions and quarterly financial statements (the good kind) can deliver.
Instead, emerging companies and SMBs — with limited marketing budgets and people power — have to get in front of and try to engage with their target journalists, bloggers and other influencers, and ultimately their end-user consumers, with an alternative approach. No new products every three months to send out for review. No big name customers speaking on your behalf. No super star CEO. No blockbuster financial milestones to report.
For smaller companies, public relations efforts should be almost singularly focused on content generation and content sharing. I’m not saying traditional media efforts should be ignored. Coverage in online/print publications remains an important part of the communications mix. But small companies could be missing out on visibility opportunities if they have an over reliance on traditional media (because it’s a familiar medium) during an age when the competition has never been so fierce and editorial pages so few. And more significantly, during an era when so many other digital communications channels are hungry for great content.
A blog is a must-have and one of the most cost-effective, high ROI communications tools for start-ups and small companies. If you’re expert in what you make and sell, then demonstrate that expertise by publishing provocative, informational posts on topics in which your target audiences are interested. Take a point of view – but stay open-minded and invite readers to weigh in with their thoughts and opinions.
Business and consumer-focused news websites update their content many times throughout the day. They are thirsty for contributed content. In fact, because many of these sites have bare bones editorial staff, their business models rely on contributed content. Since you now have a company blog (right?), repurpose your posts and submit them as by-lined articles or guest posts. You’ll need to do some rewriting, but you’ll get the hang of it soon enough and will be delighted with the results. Share the links to your published content on social media to continue getting the word out.
If you’re convinced that traditional media coverage is still vital for your business, or for your CEO’s ego, then start engaging with important journalists by commenting on their online articles. Just remember to include a distinct point of view in your comments, and share something the reporter may not already know about the subject he/she just wrote about. In other words, provide value, and over time that reporter will value you …and may even call you one of these days.
Whatever you do, don’t always try to play on the same field as the big companies. Outflank, stay on your toes, and fire up the content machine.