Media coverage was a powerful ally for me as a small business owner. For nearly a decade, I owned and operated Soul … Day Spa and Salon, a small chain in Washington D.C. When I opened, I knew no one in the media or what they were looking for. (Plus, I could not afford the $5,000 a month that publicists wanted to charge me to find out.) So, I did my own research. Soon, Soul was featured in magazines such as People, Allure, The Washingtonian; newspapers such as The Washington Post; television programs such as CBS Morning News and Ambush Makeover; and on local radio stations such as WPGC, WKYS, and WHUR.
Like your most loyal customers, the media gives your business credibility. It says, “Hey folks, trust us. This business is legit.” Also, the media can reach lots of potential customers instantly. Finally, the media can make you a brand leader overnight. (Just ask Dr. Phil what his practice looked like before Oprah.) Here are four winning strategies for becoming a newsworthy small biz:
Be innovative. When I opened, I sent press kits that included an invitation to visit, a menu of services, and photos of the business) to all the magazines read by my target market. Soon, some of the writers followed up, had services and wrote about their experiences. Those write-ups changed my business overnight!
Be relevant. Courtney Gwynn, a producer for NewsChannel 8’s “Let’s Talk Live,” encourages you to tie your unique business idea to relevant and current news topics. For example, leading up to Labor Day, her show featured a fashion expert who discussed “all white outfits for the Labor Day weekend.” Similarly, radio stations love giveaways for its loyal listeners. Contact your local station’s promotions department, tell them about your business, and ask if they have tie-in opportunities. Although giveaways are not free, they are a cost-effective way for small businesses to gain on-air mentions. Angelique Alston, assistant program director for Washington D.C.’s WPGC 95.5, agrees. Soul successfully partnered for years with her and WPGC for Mother’s Day and Christmas promotions.
Be of service. Businesses that do good, do well. Donate some products or services to organizations in the community. At Soul, we partnered with Rachael’s Women’s Shelter by donating manicures, massages, and hair services. Both The Washington Post and CBS Morning News featured our program, and it was well received by our clients and the greater community.
Be a dreamer… and an expert. Don’t you enjoy stories about someone stepping out on faith and pursuing a dream? It gives hope and encouragement to others. That’s what People magazine thought when they featured me in a “Quit Your Job, Follow Your Dream” story. Additionally, the longer you are in business, the more knowledge you have. Share those lessons. Look for opportunities to brand yourself as an expert to writers.
They say that “good news travels fast.” When you partner your great business with solid media relationships, however, news about your company will travel faster than ever.
Nicole Cober, Esq. is a partner at Cober Johnson, a law firm focusing on trademarks, brand licensing and small biz consulting. She is a former small biz owner of the award-winning chain, Soul…Day Spa and Salon. She is also a Legal Consultant for Washington D.C.’s NewsChannel 8 and author of the soon-to-be released book: CEO of My Soul: My Dos and Don’ts of Small Biz. Follow her on Twitter @CoberJohnson and like her on FB @CoberJohnson. Visit her website at www.coberjohnson.com.