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In Writing

Take advantage of free publicity by playing your PR cards right.

Liz Coursen of AmericanPostcardArt.com has had her company written about in more than 50 magazines and newspapers since she started the business in 2000 with her husband, Phil Neigh, 46. How did she manage this PR feat? The couple's company digitally restores, enlarges and prints vintage postcards in a range of sizes, and Coursen's online archive of 150,000 postcards has allowed her to solicit press from a range of publications, from trade magazines interested in her company's unique use of wide-format printing to publications specializing in everything from regional locations and home decorating to animals and vintage airplanes.

Coursen, 48, started publicizing her collection of postcards to the local newspaper in her hometown and business headquarters of Sarasota, Florida, and progressively began pitching larger publications. "If you start small and work your way up, it will give you a track record of media hits," says Joan Stewart, publicity expert and publisher of The Publicity Hound's Tips of the Week e-zine.

Stewart also recommends you start a blog and update it often to increase the number of hits your business receives from search engines. Both Coursen and Stewart agree it's important to be acquainted with the magazine or newspaper you are pitching and, when possible, informed about the staff member you contact.

Coursen sends out dozens of homemade press kits that include samples of her product, and she tailors the kits to each publication or editor. She suggests keeping cover letters brief and to the point, and brushing up on your public speaking skills and phone etiquette. With six-figure sales in 2006 and the same projected for 2007, Coursen attributes her success in publicizing her business to her do-it-yourself approach. "If you're an entrepreneur and you have a good story," she says, "you're the one who can most effectively sell your business."

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This article was originally published in the May 2007 print edition of Entrepreneur's StartUps with the headline: In Writing.

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