From the June 2003 issue of Startups

If you think your homebased business is too small to garner publicity in newspapers, magazines or on TV and radio, think again. With millions fascinated by homebased businesses, there's never been a better time for homebased entrepreneurs to get publicity. To use publicity effectively, understand its "Five W's":

  • Why should a homebased business seek publicity? Compared to advertising, publicity is virtually free-your only costs are materials, mailing and phone calls. Also, people believe if you've been covered by the media, you must be for real-so you've got built-in credibility. Plus, if the national media picks up your story, you'll get far wider exposure than an ad in your local paper could ever obtain.
  • Where should you publicize your business? Target the media that reach your potential customers. Which magazines and newspapers do they read? What radio stations do they listen to? What TV programs do they watch?
  • Whom should you contact? You'll need to know which reporters cover your type of business. Check media reference books at your local library to get a listing of addresses, e-mail and phone numbers.
  • What type of coverage should you seek? When you contact programmers and editors, you can offer to write an article or participate in a radio or TV interview about your area of expertise, or you can ask for a reporter to cover your business as part of an article or TV show.
  • When should you make contact? Do it as soon as you come up with a hot angle. To get media attention, you've got to have a pertinent or unique subject. Do your homework before approaching the media, and come up with an angle to convince them your business will interest their audience.
  • How do you submit materials? Ask media contacts what they prefer. Some take phone calls; others only read e-mail. Also, find out the time frame involved. Magazines in particular work months ahead, so if you want your company to be featured in a December story, you may need to contact the publication in June.

Excerpted from Success for Less: 100 Low-Cost Businesses You Can Start Today (Entrepreneur Press) by Rob & Terry Adams