Pump Up Your Sales With Powerful PR Never underestimate the positive effect good PR can have on your bottom line.

By Tony Parinello

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Q:I've just started a homebased carpet-cleaning business. How canI get some free publicity in my community?

A:Carpets to computers, potato chips to microchips--whatever kind ofbusiness you're in, you need to think about the wonderful worldof public relations. PR simply means getting public visibility foryour product, service or solution in the geographic area where yourbusiness operates. For instance, if James R. Entrepreneur hires abig-name PR firm that happens to land him an interview on theOprah Winfrey Show, it may give his ego a big boost. But ifhis local prospects happen to miss the show, he's missed theboat and the business!

Here's a list of "the least you need to know" whenit comes to effective PR:

  1. Write down the goals of your PR program. In other words, whatresults are you looking for? The announcement of a new business, anew product, a recent accomplishment or a philanthropicendeavor?
  2. Identify the "whom" and "where" of theindividuals you're wanting to reach. This includes age group,annual income and profession, as well as the geographics of wherethey reside, play, shop and work.
  3. Identify the media that this group of would-be prospects wouldnormally read, watch and be exposed to. Compile a list ofmagazines, newspapers, radio and TV programming. Identify theassociations and organizations that they belong to and participatein.
  4. Write (or have someone write for you) a short press releasethat explains what your business does better than anyone else inyour area of expertise or what you want to announce.
  5. Write down on three index cards what your three most powerfulbenefits are if someone were to use your products, services andsolutions. You'll need this when you talk to anyone from themedia.
  6. Consider going online to www.bacons.com and purchasing the media contactlist that applies to your product, marketplace, demographics andgeographic territory of your target audience. Note: Bacon's hasit all: print, radio and TV. If you'd like, for a small fee,they will actually send your press material out to the media listyou specify! I love one-stop shops, don't you?
  7. Go to the library and find the Directory ofAssociations. Use it to pick the associations and organizationsthat most of your potential prospects probably belong to. Forexample, if you have a product for refinishing and protectingfurniture, then the American Furniture Builders Association maymake sense.
  8. Write or have written for you a short 800- to 1,000-wordarticle on a topic that you are an expert on that directly relatesto your product, service and/or solution.
  9. Send your press release to the contacts on your list, which youeither purchased from Bacon's or compiled at the library. Waitfive business days and then call the recipients of your pressrelease. Have your index cards handy so you can put your best footforward and get the contact interested in what you've got tooffer. If you don't make contact, leave a voice-mail message.Just make sure you follow up--the key here is to be persistent inan appropriate way.
  10. As you're following up on your press release, you'llalso need to send your article out to the associations andorganizations you identified in step 7. Here again you'll needto call and follow up.

According to experts, you should be prepared to endure sevenattempts to make contact with media representatives in print, radioand TV. You will notice, however, that if you take the time andenergy to spend a little of your hard-earned cash on PR, yourbusiness will grow and prosper during the times when others aremerely surviving.

Tony Parinello is the author of the bestselling book Selling to VITO, the Very Important TopOfficer. For additional information on his speeches and hisnewest book, Secrets of VITO, call (800) 777-VITO orvisit www.sellingtovito.com.

The opinions expressed in this column are thoseof the author, not of Entrepreneur.com. All answers are intended tobe general in nature, without regard to specific geographical areasor circumstances, and should only be relied upon after consultingan appropriate expert, such as an attorney oraccountant.

Wavy Line

Tony Parinello has become the nation's foremost expert on executive-level selling. He's also the author of the bestselling book bearing the name of his sales training program,Getting to VITO, the Very Important Top Officer, 10 Steps to VITO's Office,as well as the host of Club VITO, a weekly live internet broadcast.

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