How One Entrepreneur Gets Major Media Buzz Without a PR Professional

Public relations can help with sales and branding

Jigsaw puzzle representation of public relations

Cutting through all the marketing noise is increasingly difficult these days. If you’re a small business owner, getting your message to your target market to stay top of mind is key to driving sales. And being able to properly position your brand in the minds of consumers is important to the long-term viability of your business.

Public relations can be a great way to help with both sales and credibly delivering your message to consumers. There is something powerful about a respected magazine, newspaper, or TV show talking about your product or service; it has far more credibility than if you try to tell your story via advertising alone. Because great PR can create credibility, more so than advertising, it tends to also result in greater sales.

I had a chance to talk with James Oliver, owner of WeMontage.com, the world’s only website that lets you turn your photos into a large, custom collage on removable wallpaper. On his own, James has been able to successfully garner exceptional PR media buzz in publications such as Martha Stewart Living, The Today Show and The Wall Street Journal, to name a few.

1. How did you come up with the idea for WeMontage?
People display photos in their homes because their photos make them feel love, inspiration, or happiness. Because WeMontage lets you customize the number of your photos and print in large sizes, you get more feelings of love, happiness, and inspiration when you install a WeMontage in your home or office. And the removable aspect is great because no nails or messy glues are required to install it. Finally, it’s much more affordable than picture frames and canvas wraps.

2. How have you been able to position WeMontage as a national media darling when so many other entrepreneurs struggle to get even local coverage?
It’s been mostly luck and hustle, really. And the more I hustle, the luckier I get. It also helps to have a remarkable, unique product.

3. How important is media coverage to your overall sales strategy? What percentage of your sales would you say comes from media attention?
Media coverage has been hugely important. I actually wish it were less so. I created an entirely new category for which no one was looking because they didn’t even know it exists. So media coverage helps with creating both product and brand awareness. About 20% of our sales are a direct result of great PR. Not all PR results in sales, though.

4. How should other entrepreneurs begin? How can they emulate the success you’ve had in their own businesses?
Here are four tips that almost everyone can follow:

  1. Use websites that connect the dots between relevant articles and the people who write them. I like Just Reach Out because it has an easy-to-use search engine and it provides the contact information for the writer of the article. They also give you email templates. A monthly subscription is $65 and they give you a few uses for free.
  2. Learn how to send cold emails! I sent a cold email to a writer for the popular tech blog, Cnet, that got my company featured, which led to great sales. I wrote about this on my personal blog.
  3. Get warm introductions from your network of people on LinkedIn. And Facebook groups can be great for building relationships. One key thing I learned from my friend, TODAY Show correspondent, Mario Armstrong, is have your network in place before you need to ask people for help. So make sure you’re helping people long before you need something.
  4. And, finally, I use affiliate marketing (e.g., Share-A-Sale) to have other people promote my company and product. It was because of an affiliate marketing partner that WeMontage got discovered by a producer for the DIY Network show, Power All, which led to a great feature on the show. That DIY Network episode has re-aired about half a dozen times, and every time it airs, I get sales.

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