Today we welcomed our Homepreneur of the Year runner-ups, Mike and Mary Ferrari of UnusualThreads.com to our CityMax.com office. They stopped over in Vancouver on the way home from one of their vacation cruises (not a bad life eh?), so we thought it would be nice to meet them and get started on their website makeover.
Through UnusualThreads.com, Mike and Mary sell celebrity fashions and have experienced some real online success – generating over $25,000 per month in revenue and 1500+ monthly unique visitors! It’s a great start, but we found that the Ferraris could still improve their search engine optimization, PPC, and overall public relations/social media efforts.
Public relations are essentially the game of selling stories through the media to a large group of potential customers. The payoffs can be huge, with the implied endorsement and additional credibility from the media spotlight – be it TV, radio, print, or blog. Here are a few basic PR tips I gave them that you can apply to your own business:
1. Know your audience.
Any good campaign starts with research. Before you pick up the phone or send out an email pitch, ask yourself:
- What does this publication or journalist cover?
- What were their last three stories like?
- Who is their readership?
2. Only pitch brands and businesses appropriate for that publication’s news.
You probably don’t want to waste your time pitching Forbes Magazine if you are doing three sales a month from your home. However, there might be plenty of small business publications that are a perfect fit your story.
3. Seek only media exposure that is relative to your brand AND your customer.
The end goal of public relations for most small businesses is to increase sales. Consider the following:
- Do your customers read this publication?
- Would your story convince readers to buy?
4. Sell your story, but prepare backup pitches.
No editor is always going to go for your first story idea. Create a few alternate storylines that you can quickly slide over to if the editor/reporter is not loving your initial brilliant pitch. For example, a couple of story angles for UnusualThreads.com could be:
- How to dress while on a budget
- How certain clothing can you make look skinnier
- How to shop for certain niche brands
5. Create an event calendar.
Timeliness is everything in the world of news. You don’t want to miss out on an event that might be a cornerstone of your industry (e.g. Oscar Night for the Ferraris, or National Small Business Week for CityMax.com) as this creates many opportunities for pitching and dialogue. Take the time to plan out the next year, and mark down the “can’t miss” events – you can often piggyback off their momentum for your next pitch.
6. Foster relationships.
As with most aspects of life, relationships can help you grow exponentially. Don’t be discouraged if an editor doesn’t reply, or hangs up on you. Continue to pitch appropriately and become a valued resource for information in your field. Once you have demonstrated your industry credibility, your likelihood of landing a story becomes all the greater.
Many people underestimate the power of effective public relations and overestimate its cost. You don’t need to hire a specialist, and there is no secret – you just need a bit of research, creativity and courage to pitch your business. Media coverage is invaluable no matter what industry you’re in, and everyone has a story to tell. So get out there and start pitching!
Written by Patrick Lok, Town Crier at CityMax.com.