Publicity Myths Shattered… And Why You Need It

Overlooking publicity is certainly a forgivable, though regrettable oversight. Regrettable because a simple public relations plan can add leverage and inflate the impact of your marketing mix no matter how small you feel your budget is. Forgivable because there are so many misconceptions about public reations and media seeking that it can be a little overwhelming and frustrating to figure out at first.

How it works:

Publicity seeking is a symbiotic relationship that benefits all three parts of the circle when it is done well. The players are the media outlet, your business and your target market. Where your target market overlaps with the target market of the media you are seeking coverage in, is the sweet spot that you want to aim for with your efforts.

The media, whether traditional or new, has a need for content to drive consumers to read, view or listen. When the consumer has an emotional reaction to the content, whether good or bad, they are more prone to take action. The media wants that, so they can please their other audience – the advertiser.

Now as a small business owner you can appear as an auxiliary to the content by buying ads. That is certainly an element that has its place in most small business budgets. The other option is to make a concerted effort to become a part of the content. The pay off to the publicity seeking is that the audience will gain the perception that your business and expertise have the endorsement of the media. It’s a subtle change in attitude that could influence buying choices for those in the market for your product or service.

What publicity can do is remind people who you are and what you stand for. Publicity is not a place to make sales, but to share a compelling message with your community. Of course, you can pursue national coverage, but doing so is largely overkill for the typical small business owner. You likely don’t want or need national coverage to achieve your marketing goals. The great thing is that achieving publicity on a local level is that you can almost consider it a public service. That’s why most can skip the upper level PR firms and choose a more affordable public relations option.

While media coverage does not provide you with a personal soap box for your sales message, sales do often follow media coverage. A good publicist can help you with tracking the response and effect of media coverage. Generally, increased presence within the media of your community with increased traffic so when your in-store service matches the expectation you set through your collective marketing efforts, sale naturally follow suit.

Mythbuster #1

If you call the media with a story they are going to send you right to the ad department.

If you have a newsworthy story to tell, you are not bugging the media. That’s one of the biggest fears that small business owners tend to have about approaching the media. It’s common to lack confidence in your unique story and its value to the wider community. Usually a consultation with a publicist who specializes in small business can alleviate your doubts and help you identify a strong angle to present to the media. Many small retailers find a session like this enough to get the ball rolling with a publicity campaign.

Journalists want to hear stories that impact and inspire their readers, viewers and listeners. When you come forward with a tip or a press release properly packaged to get their attention, they will respond favourably. It is in their best interests to serve their community with topical, relevant news. If you send a release and you are routed over to the ads department, don’t give up and by an ad unless you need the guaranteed coverage. That just means you need to try again.

Mythbuster #2

One story will change my business.

One story will seldom be enough to create immediate or lasting changes to buying habits. One story on its own may lead to some interest and perhaps a sale or two, but pinning your hopes on publicity bailing you out of a spiral with one stroke will set you up for disappointment. You can’t count on one push of publicity effort to be enough for your needs.

Knowing that from the start could have saved many a small business owner from disillusionment in the publicity game.

Trying again is the primary area small retailers need to focus their efforts. Publicity-seeking is not a one-shot activity. Even if coverage is achieved with your first attempts, you’ll want to continue to seek additional coverage as relevant and newsworthy moments happen in your business. The reason for this continual effort is that like all marketing approaches consistency and repetition will yield better results and provide you with more long term leverage.

Media coverage works to define your brand and express your expertise in the marketplace. It is not a path to instant fame and fortune, but continual practice and refinement does bring powerful results to those who choose to pursue it. Good coverage that is well targeted is never a wasted investment and more often than not can bring about a higher return on investment than many of the most common tactics used by small business owners, including newspaper and yellow pages advertising.

Mythbuster #3

It’s expensive to hire a publicist and too hard to do on your own.

Contrary to widely held beliefs, publicity is not an expensive profession to tap into. As mentioned earlier this is particularly true of small businesses who do not aspire to the shine of the national or international limelight. It is not difficult to find a professional publicist who specializes in small business publicity at extremely affordable rates.

Since extremely affordable can vary depending on your personal concept of money, I’d like to make it clear. A professional publicist specializing in small businesses serving a local market will cost you less than the price of one full page ad in your local newspaper – unless you live in a town of less than 10,000. Your publicist won’t get you coverage every month, and shouldn’t promise to, but they will work on your behalf to maximize your chances of coverage and help you leverage your paid marketing expenses.

For the few that can’t manage to clear room in the budget for publicity, and for those who simply prefer the do-it-yourself approach, it’s not difficult to tap into existing resources for all the support and help you need to learn and apply the best practices. An elementary education in PR through internet and library resources will cost between nothing but time and a couple of hundred dollars. It’s simply a matter of knowing where to look, and there are plenty of signposts that will point you in the right direction. Do-it-yourself enthusiasts who would like reassurance that they are on the right track without paying a full fee for publicity, critique services and membership sites are also economical alternatives.

Contributed by Patrysha Korchinski, who is an award winning marketing and promotions geek who specializes in strategies and services for small business owners serving a local market. She’s appeared as a writer and as an interview subject in numerous local, national and online media outlets over her past thirteen years as a home based business owner. Since transitioning into publicity she has helped clients get coverage where it benefits them most whether that’s coverage on a local radio station or on ESPN. For more free tips and useful resource suggestions, sign up for the complimentary Profit with Patrysha (link to newsletter or enjoy video marketing tips over your coffee break at Coffee Time Marketing. (link to


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