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Aug 16, 2000
How To

Top 4 PR Tips to Reach Small Businesses Online: Dawn Ringel, Gumpert Communications

SUMMARY: Gumpert Communications is a PR firm specializing in helping large organizations such as NEBS and EntreWorld.org reach small biz. We asked Senior VP Dawn Ringel for her top PR tips for everyone who wants to do the same. Here they are (paraphrased a bit):
Tip #1: Successful PR is all about reaching the right audience with a message that is appropriate and meaningful to them. Contrary to what many people think, the small business and SOHO market isn’t one huge homogenous mass. It’s made up of various segments which you need to identify if your PR campaign will be effective. Ringel suggests that you consider several things as you go about segmenting the market:

- Cost of your goods and services
- Technological considerations
- Customer’s own market reach – is the customer is trying to reach a large audience, local one, international one, etc.

Tip#2: Use online media. Ringel says that many small biz owners use the Internet because they are so busy. So stories that appear in online media likely will be read.

But, getting the story on line has its challenges. Online media can be harder to reach than traditional print and television media. They’re not in the regular Bacon’s directory so you’ll have to work harder to get them. (Gumpert has collected an in-house database of more than 1,000 online editors and reporters who regularly cover small business news.) Online publications may have only a small number of pages allocated for small business topics and it may be harder to get your story picked up. Therefore, your story needs to be distinctive and have value.

Tip# 3: Another way of getting your info online is through content partnerships with related media sites. Online media sites need lots of content that can change often, if not daily, and these days their editorial staffing budgets are lean so they often welcome outside help. Perhaps you can provide a multi-part story or item that can be run over several days. And, remember that online media need more up-to-the-minute information. If you have a story that is more “evergreen, ” that is, a piece that can be run now or three weeks from now, pitch it to traditional print publications instead.

You can also promote your executives as “experts” on small biz topics and make them available either for online or e-mail chats. But you must be selective about which sites you use and make certain the sites do indeed serve the small biz owner.

Tip #4: Unfortunately, for some companies, the road to PR success has been filled with potholes. Here’s are the most common mistakes you should avoid:

- Not understanding what truly sets your company/service/product apart for small business and the small business media.

-Setting your sights on one type of media. Some clients that only want to reach small businesses through the Wall Street Journal. This is disastrous. You need to understand that various media do indeed reach the small business community. Otherwise you waste a lot of money and time on PR efforts that don’t work.

- A company can send out info that peripheral or isn’t focused to the audience. Make certain your information is targeted.

Happy note: Ringel says sometimes a PR effort is so successful that companies are able to cutback on advertising. (Wouldn’t that be nice?)

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