From the December 2000 issue of Startups

So you wanna get your company noticed, huh? Looking for cheap publicity but not willing to stand on the corner with a sandwich board? As the press manager for the Young Entrepreneur's Organization (YEO), Tracey Spotts witnessed firsthand the rigmarole that can take place between entrepreneurs and the press. With reporters' requests for suggested story contacts on the one hand and a slew of qualified entrepreneurs on the other, Spotts quickly realized the need for a more efficient system. "Reporters would often call, looking for people who fit very specific criteria," she says. Instead of giving the reporters a list of names that they would have to cold-call until they found a match for their stories, Spotts passed along the request to a chapter of entrepreneurs, allowing individual entrepreneurs to respond directly to the reporter if they fit a particular profile.

Her idea was an instant success, and in July Spotts launched ProfilesUnlimited.com. The Alexandria, Virginia, site offers the media a database of entrepreneurs, catalogued by specific criteria, including age, gender, industry and start-up costs. For an annual fee, entrepreneurs can write their own business profiles and post as many press-related materials as they choose.

While still trying to master the nuances of her business, Spotts is excited about the future of ProfilesUnlimited. "It's an inexpensive way to publicize your company," she says. "When you start thinking about how you're going to spend your advertising dollars, it makes sense to spend them on PR and media relations."