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Unearth the Hidden Publicity Gems in Your Business Build exposure for your brand by showing off your company's expertise and top employees in trade magazines.

By Rachel Meranus

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Organizations that focus their PR solely on products, services and the general business plan are missing out on key opportunities to promote their brand and organization. By taking an in-depth look at all aspects of your organization, you can find more opportunities for exposing your brand.

In addition to reaching new audiences, showing off your organization's expertise can draw attention to the strong internal structure, sound business strategy and growth potential of your business.

Free Trade
Don't discount the value of industry and professional trade publications--they can increase exposure to potential business partners or employees. Look beyond your industry-specific business trade publications. There's a trade publication for just about every profession and industry, and there are likely many that are relevant for different aspects of your business.

Look at your business processes and determine the intangibles that make your organization more productive, more efficient or superior to the competition. For example, there could be an opportunity to showcase your streamlined operations in a manufacturing trade publication, highlight your state-of-the-art research facility in an R&D magazine or feature your cutting-edge networking system in an IT trade.

Employees are Your Best Asset
If you have a star sales representative, a CFO who boasts 30 years of industry experience or a researcher who has won numerous awards, consider pitching them as ""thought leaders"" for articles on subjects relevant to their expertise. Having your employees quoted as industry experts not only provides additional exposure for your organization, but also elevates your company as an industry leader and recognizes top employees.

These opportunities exist in mainstream media, local media or trade media. There may be an opportunity in a major national news magazine to comment in a trend story or have a star employee profiled by the local newspaper. Trade publications often highlight industry professionals by inviting industry experts to submit articles on topics of interest.

Corporate Culture
Many business, trade and management publications regularly cover new trends in corporate culture and management, and often highlight innovative leaders. If your company puts a premium on corporate culture or has a CEO with a unique management style, these could be great subjects for a feature.

Topics such as creative off-site meetings or unique perks--anything that illustrates an organization's fostering of a great working environment--will highlight your company's commitment to its employees as a reason for its success. This type of coverage not only highlights your management style and approach to employee relations, but also acts as a well-placed article that can also be a recruiting tool.

Think Beyond Business
Media opportunities aren't limited to just the confines of your organization. Business publications often focus on the extracurricular pursuits of busy executives because it provides a window into why they are able to excel both in and out of the boardroom. If your VP of marketing regularly places at the top of her age group in triathlons or your chief operating officer spends his weekends building custom motorcycles, use it as an opportunity to generate publicity for that all-star employee and showcase the drive and motivation that permeates your entire company.

Don't Stray Off Course
The goal of expanding your PR campaign to different areas of your business is to tie everything back to your core organizational message. Before seizing new opportunities, focus on the key messages that you want people to come away with. Before contacting reporters, make sure to sit down with members of your organization to ensure that they are prepared to communicate these messages and are adept at handling any challenging questions that may arise from their discussions.

Getting Started
After determining new organizational assets you can pitch, develop a list of publication and reporter targets for your story ideas. Very often, newspapers and magazines have columnists who focus on "out-of-the-box" topics. Read the columns and familiarize yourself with their writing styles. In fact, referencing a past article in a pitch is a great way to let reporters know you read their work and have an appreciation for the stories they write.

Editorial calendars also offer a resource for finding story opportunities in publications that are related to your core business or in those that may be less familiar. Most trade outlets and many general-consumer publications provide an outline of stories that are planned throughout the year. If you see something that's appropriate, begin your outreach at least a month in advance of the deadline date. Stories have a habit of closing much earlier than anticipated.

Additionally, services like ProfNet allow you to isolate opportunities to pitch your experts and create profiles for reporters to access. Similar to editorial calendars, success has as much to do with speed as it does with a well-crafted pitch. Pay attention and pounce when an opportunity arises.

Unearthing the gems in your organization can lead to a multitude of new opportunities to highlight your company and its employees. Similar to real-life prospecting, the treasure that produces the biggest reward may not be in the most obvious place. While you may want to start your search in the corner office, it could be that quiet person in the middle cubicle who holds the key to a front-page feature. The only way you'll know for sure is to keep digging.

Rachel Meranus is vice president of communications at PR Newswire, an online press release distribution network based in New York. Get more information about PR Newswire and public relations with their PR Toolkit for small businesses.

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