5 Ways to Generate Publicity for Your Company You need a story to tell and be available to tell it whenever a journalist is willing to listen.

By Jacqueline Whitmore

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In order to grow your business, it's important for your prospective clients to know about what you do or sell. Fortunately, the media is there to help. If you learn how to use the various public relations strategies to promote your business, you'll be doing them, as well as yourself, a favor. After all, media outlets are always looking for good stories.

Here are five ways to generate publicity for your company through the media.

1. Develop a contact list.

Create a database contact list of the editors at your local or regional newspaper, magazine and online news sites whose department relates to your business, like the business or food editor. Their names are found in the masthead of a publication or e-magazine, or on the contacts page of websites. Spell names correctly and keep this contact list current.

Related: The Challenges of Doing the Publicity Circuit for Your Business

2. Send press releases.

Create and send powerful press releases to the appropriate editors. Try to send a press release at least once a month, using a standard press release format. Write in a reverse pyramid style, with the most important information up front; the first paragraph should essentially contain the "who, what, when, where, why and how" of the press release, with descriptions and lesser information following later. At the bottom, include a one-paragraph boilerplate company description and your contact information.

Press releases should be written in a businesslike format and style; consult the Associated Press (AP) Stylebook for help. Leave off the flowery language and don't try to sell anything.

Related: Cut Through the Online Noise. 5 Publicity Tips From a PR Pro.

3. Call the press or respond to breaking news.

If you have big news, it is perfectly fine to call the editor or newsroom—especially if your news is timely. Look for trends in the marketplace, tie in to big news stories, or report a breaking story. This is how many stories get to the media.

Set up a Google Alerts notification for keywords relating to your industry and receive links to news relating to those keywords. Respond quickly and tie in your point to either rebut or enhance the current report. For example, if you are a dietician, submit information on why you think diet soda is either good or bad for your health. Tie it in with a new study, if possible.

Related: 4 Ways to Get Publicity on a Budget

4. Invite the press.

Hold an event and invite the media to a press conference or a "hands-on" sampling of your product or service. They may send a reporter or news team out to cover it, but even if they don't show up, you are on their radar. Also send a press release pre-promoting the event and a follow-up release reporting the results. Include photographs (with names and captions) and/or video links inside the press release. Do not send photo or video attachments to an email. Due to the risk of viruses, attachments are not accepted at many media outlets.

5. Subscribe to HARO.

HARO, or Help a Reporter Out is a consolidation service in which editors, producers and journalists post queries looking for people to interview or guests for their shows. The HARO listing is sent out via email three times a day, and includes 20 to 30 journalist requests and the rules they require for you to respond. Be sure your response is directly targeted to their request.

If you haven't been using the media thus far, make it a point to do so. It is an easy – and economical – way to garner publicity.

Jacqueline Whitmore

Author, Business Etiquette Expert and Founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach

Jacqueline Whitmore is an etiquette expert and founder of the Protocol School of Palm Beach in Palm Beach, Fla. She is the author of Poised for Success: Mastering the Four Qualities That Distinguish Outstanding Professionals (St. Martin's Press, 2011) and Business Class: Etiquette Essentials for Success at Work (St. Martin's Press, 2005).

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