In our media-oriented society, whether you like it or not, your ability to flourish is often based on how you appear in print, online or off. Worse, many of your prospective buyers will select your competitor based on what they read about him online, in the local press, or in their own trade journals.
Pick up your area’s business magazines or even the business section of your daily newspaper. Every issue of these publications carries an interview with or feature on a local entrepreneur. Do you realize that the majority of these stories are placed by public relations firms who have been paid by the person about whom the story is written? The profiles you see are a part of a coordinated effort undertaken and funded by the company or individual publicized – the people or companies being featured are paying for it.
Suppose you sell furniture in Peoria, and the city council has voted to restore a historic building complete with furniture re-crafted to look like it came from an earlier era. One well-placed interview on the significance of the furnishings is likely to catch the eye of hundreds, if not thousands of readers, including developers, preservation groups, historical societies, and anyone else concerned with local history.
Because publishers have long known of the healthy number of entrepreneurs in their community who wish to be written about and who have the funds to commission an article, publishers often get their material for free. The manner in which the name and the products of the vendor are publicized do not appear as advertisements, but rather as articles of social or community interest. After all, an article is far more influential than an ad taken out by that same company.
Why does publicity like this pay? For one thing, it’s not necessarily more costly or difficult to get an article written and placed than to simply pay for an ad. The cost of getting an article written, which may span several pages and include photos, is likely to cost far less than a single page ad in the same publication. While the advance planning, coordination, and acceptance of the self-generated article requires considerable effort, it is often a sound investment.
The next time you see an item in print about a company or individual with whom you compete, take an extra second and consider how it got there.