From the December 2000 issue of Startups

David Sabot has managed to have his business, CheapHumidors.com, mentioned in Home Business magazine and Long Island Newsday, and even on Good Morning America-without slinging a single inverted-pyramid, standard-issue press release. Sabot's winning technique, which has garnered a 60- to 70-percent response rate, isn't for everyone. For example, it's not for those hard-line homebased business owners who read sales pitches from scripts and spend their evenings cruising networking functions.

What Sabot does is called "friendly e-mail."

"I tried to write a press release and had total writer's block," says Sabot. "It seemed so dry and contrived." So instead he e-mailed the editor of a business magazine to say how much he'd always enjoyed the magazine and attributed the success of CheapHumidors.com to the advice he'd read there. The editor, impressed with Sabot's success story, included him in an article on how to grow a homebased business when your advertising is limited to telling two friends in the hope that they'll tell two friends, and so on, and so on. . . .

Do you, too, want to get press sans press release? You do. I can see it in your eyes. So just follow these words of wisdom:

Target your letter. What magazines do you read? What magazines does your target market read? Can your knowledge shine a bit of light into their readers' dreary, empty lives?

Get personal. Send your letter to a live, breathing human, not to letters@magazine.com, editor@magazine.com or delete-me-please-because-I-couldn't-even-bother-to-find-out-your-name@magazine.com. To find names and e-mail addresses, scope out the magazine's masthead or check your local library for a magazine directory like 2001 Writer's Market.

Be honest. Don't slobber to an editor that her magazine has changed your life if you've never so much as cracked an issue.

Offer your expertise. Can you tell other graphic designers how to hire assistants? Has running a gift basket business given you the uncanny ability to suggest the perfect present for any occasion? Editors are way more interested in finding good content than in plugging your business-and giving advice can establish your credibility to potential customers.


Linda Formichelli has written for more than 70 magazines, including Entrepreneur's Start-Ups, Redbook, Woman's Day and Psychology Today. You can visit her online at www.twowriters.net. She also runs a site that's against intrusive advertising at www.badads.org.