When starting a small business, it’s natural to focus on getting publicity to increase your business’s profile. More coverage means faster growth means more revenue, right? For the most part, yes, but it’s not quite that cut-and-dry.
There are several struggles a small business owner faces in the beginning stages, from not having enough resources (time, money, human resources) to finding the balance between maintaining a personal connection with your audience and scaling up. A small business is a delicate ecosystem. To grow with long-lasting results, you must have a smart publicity strategy that won’t derail you. You need to remember that trying to get the same kind of media coverage as a significant national brand right out of the gate will neither be viable nor work as much in your favor as you might expect.
Through years of speaking with, consulting, and coaching entrepreneurs on mastering media, I’ve encountered some misconceptions that continue to prevail. I want to take some time to debunk six of the most common myths regarding publicity for small businesses.
Myth #1 – Any media exposure is good.
That’s not exactly true. Gaining worthwhile coverage requires relevancy.
The first question you must ask yourself is: Are the media outlets I’m contacting aligned with my industry?
You should develop a solid intentional plan for the type of media outlets you’re going to approach. Do your homework to ensure you know what types of stories they share with their audience so that what you pitch to them is relevant.
Think about what value you want to bring to the audience.
You must have a targeted approach by contacting the right media outlets for the proper publicity. I don’t recommend a one-size-fits-all approach because you should align your pitch with the journalist’s coverage area to increase your chances of getting the interview.
Myth #2 – The only media coverage that matters is at the national level.
I’ll be the first to tell you that you don’t need to be featured in major publications or on top news or talk shows to significantly impact your business and income. It might seem like you’re thinking big, but on the contrary, it’s limited thinking and will keep you from getting the media exposure you should be getting to help propel your business to the next level. Long before being featured on major news outlets, what put my business on a path to success was a series of local media interviews and events, including a small speaking engagement at a local library.
Getting great publicity doesn’t mean you have to focus on getting national coverage. Local and regional coverage can often produce better results because of the targeted audience and relevancy. When crafting your publicity strategy, your initial approach should be to reach out to local media first. Consistently doing local TV, radio, and newspaper interviews helped me launch my award-winning talk show. Starting locally gives you the experience needed to hone your interviewing skills and will help prepare you for more significant opportunities, including national media exposure.
Myth #3 – I’ve gotten the interview and should start seeing results.
One of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen people make is not doing anything with the media coverage they have obtained. They assume that because they’ve gotten the interview, they have arrived at their destination: more customers will come to them, automatically resulting in more revenue.
Getting the interview is just the beginning. You need to develop a plan that will enable you to maximize its value by sharing it with more of your target market. To extend the effectiveness of your media coverage and maximize its impact, you have to optimize it.
Myth #4 – The longer my responses, the more successful the interview.
Most often, quite the opposite is true. In my experience interviewing hundreds of people, I’ve found that many of them take too long to answer the question. They go on for two or three minutes without touching on any key points.
You often say too much when unsure what to say with no significant impact. This often results in an interview that lasts too long because the journalist or reporter needs that time to get the information they seek. Preparation is critical, and so is practicing your interviewing skills. Through practice, you should be able to get your message across within 30 seconds. You can follow up with supporting information if you need to elaborate a little more. Some of the best interviews I’ve ever done were short and straightforward because I could obtain the information needed without extra fluff.
Myth #5 – I need to do a lot of interviews to see results.
In my conversations with entrepreneurs, I’ve found that another false belief they have is that you need to do many interviews to be effective. That is one hundred percent incorrect. You don’t need to do 1,000, 500, or even 50 interviews to reap huge benefits. The same revenue potential is within ten interviews as in 100 or 1,000 interviews. You have to be strategic and creative in leveraging your existing media coverage. It’s about delivering quality rather than obtaining quantity. If you have the right audience, the right host, the right reporter, and the right message, that will build momentum. You’ll achieve the “snowball effect,” where opportunities are presented to you continuously.
Myth #6 – I need a publicist to get media coverage.
As a small business owner, you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars to share your message with your target market while in the early stages of growth. I did this at the start of my career after publishing my first book. I hired a publicist, but only for a short while — it was much money going out and unsustainable for a first-time author.
Every business owner should do their publicity until they reach the point they absolutely can’t. In the beginning, every detail matters in developing what will ultimately be your “image,” and you don’t want to hand that essential creation process to someone else.
Taking charge of your public image and controlling your own media strategy can feel intimidating at first, but no one knows your business or your audience as you do at the end of the day.
In those few formative years when you first begin building your public image, maintaining control of your publicity strategy is vital. Not only that, it’s imperative to continue prioritizing and nurturing your relationship with your target market.
Being in charge of your publicity also comes with some excellent benefits that an outside person can’t touch. Taking matters into my own hands and learning how to handle my publicity set the foundation for my success today.
However, to successfully do this on your own, you’ll need an understanding of how publicity works and a strategic plan for obtaining consistent and effective media coverage.
Now that you’ve read these six debunked myths, set aside some time to review your current publicity plan. Is it in good shape? Are you clear on your goals and the actions you need to take?
We’d love to hear from you if you have any questions or want to master media strategies to enhance your credibility and influence and position yourself as an industry leader.