Whether you are a corner shop, a tattoo parlour or a fish and chip shop owner, it’s important to promote your small and medium-sized (SMEs) start-up to prospective customers.
And with 40% of registered businesses failing in the first three years of existence, getting noticed is more important than ever. It’s simply not enough to start your business; you need to launch it too!
That’s why for new SMEs on the block, it is vital to let people know you are alive, kicking and are able to offer or sell customers a product or service.
One of the cheapest ways of getting your SME noticed is through the local media. It does not have to cost the earth and can be done cheaply and easily.
If you don’t think writing or photography is for you, then ask a friend! Yes, there are agencies and PR consultants out there & professional photographers too, but when you are still only setting out on your journey, these are – in my opinion at least – unnecessary costs.
So, once you have decided that you have a launch story to tell, you need to draft your release abiding by very clear rules. These rules are designed to make it as easy as possible for journalists to use your press release.
What should go into the press release?
There are key elements that a journalist looks for in a story — and the human interest angle is key.
- Who? Who are the key players — your company, anyone else involved? Who is your business aimed at?
- What? What are you announcing?
- Why? Why is this important news — what does it provide that is different?
- Where? Where is your business/is there a further geographical angle?
- When? When does your SME open for business?
- How? How did this come about?
Tips on writing a ‘starting your business’ press release
- Read your local newspaper and see how they construct news stories.
- Your opening sentence should be no more than 25 words. This should explain what business you are launching, where and when.
- Include a quote. Tattoo parlour owner John Doe said: “…
- Writing a news article is different than writing an essay. Keep the sentences short, simple and don’t write long paragraphs.
- Do not write a press release longer than two pages.
- One point to bear in mind is that editors edit from the bottom of a press release up so ensure the most important points are at the top of the release.
With budgets for local newspapers being constantly slashed, it’s less likely that that your newspaper will be able to send a photographer out to you and your business. Be careful with branding, as shots that have large logos in the background can be a huge turn off. Look in your local paper for the type of photographs which are successful and gain the most amount of coverage. Remember, you will get more coverage if you use a photo that is close-up and does not have too many people in the shot.
A launch event
If it’s appropriate, you might wish to also hold a small launch event too, inviting local dignitaries, friends and potential customers along too. These events, ideally held in the premises of your local business, can further strengthen a press release’s newsworthiness; and thus increase the chance of your story getting coverage.
Is there anything else needed to promote your business?
Launching a business in your local media should only be part of your campaign to promote the business in your local community. You need to think about marketing and advertising opportunities, developing a website, and social media too. Remember that the more people know of the existence of your business, the more likely you are that you will have customers!
Future blogs in this series will discuss the benefits of social media for your SME, having a website, and cost-effective marketing campaigns for start-ups.
Richard Robinson started his working life as a news reporter, but has worked in PR in a range of in-house and PR agency roles since 1999.