February 25, 2011 / by Cision Contributor


(Photo – Flickr Creative Commons: smemon87)

The always engaging Peter Shankman spewed tips like a lit firecracker in our latest PRWeb webinar on big publicity ideas for small business success. So what were some of the most important takeaways?

In a pre-webinar survey, we revealed some interesting results about how you felt when it comes to marketing for your small business:

Over 4,000 participants responded to our survey, and almost 30% believe that social media will have the biggest impact on their business this year. We’re here to say that’s absolutely true, because social media can also be used as a customer service platform, and where there is good customer service, there is good marketing, because customer service is natural marketing.

PR Small Biz Survey


47% of respondents stated that they were “somewhat” confident about their current marketing programs, and 34% are not confident at all! What this signifies is that we need to do some work—a lot of this stems simply from figuring out where to start—and that’s okay.

PR Small Biz Survey

Another interesting survey response alluded to your objectives: the most prominent of which seems to be generating high quality leads. Our end result has to be sales in order for us to succeed. What we may be forgetting is that there are a number of strategies we can implement in order to drive leads and sales—one of which is community building through social media.

PR Small Biz Survey

The next response did not surprise me at all, with over half of respondents saying that having budget constraints is their biggest challenge when promoting their business. I’m here to tell you that there are a multitude of free tools out there, with virtually no limits to their usage, such as Twitter and Facebook. Don’t let budget constraints stop you from coming up with great ideas that generate revenue—a simple (and free) tweet can generate $50,000, as this business discovered.

PR Small Biz Survey

And lastly, what became apparent to us is that over half of you are using social media for your business (give yourself a pat on the back!) but around 15% of you have accounts but don’t know how to get started. Here’s my advice: find out where your community is first. Do your prospects hang out on Twitter, Facebook, or forums primarily? Take the time to listen to what they are talking about, figure out their likes, wants and needs. Finally, engage (and start slow). Be friendly, stay away from the sales pitch, and share useful information. Building online communities takes time and effort, and is certainly not a “sprout up overnight” process.

PR Small Biz Survey

Use social media to engage with your target audience

Here’s an example of who not to be in social media. Stan Smith, the over-zealous CIA agent from the FOX animated series, American Dad. He offends everyone without really realizing he’s doing it—but in his mind, he thinks he’s perfect! That being said, make sure you aren’t using social media the wrong way. We should be using social media to talk with our audience, not at our audience.

Think: what can you say that makes your audience feel important and makes them want to come to your small business? Start off by treating your customers well so well that they go out and tell the world how great you are. Make them feel important, belonged, that they have the best possible connection to your business. You want your customers to feel like if they come to you, they’ll be able to “cut the line.” Don’t know what cutting the line is? Try going to a Vegas nightclub on a Saturday night and see if you can get in without jumping in front of someone already in line.

Pitching for publicity and media coverage

Shankman doesn’t recommend blind pitching a reporter—creating a relationship with a journalist first is key to success in pitching. Also, be short and to the point: keep your pitch at three paragraphs max. The more you can help a reporter (and save time), the better your chance at coverage. Lastly, there are no “magic words” in pitching—but if you use words like “breaking” and “trend” you’d better be able to back it up in your pitch. Trends can garner more media coverage so gather more information to pitch something that can be backed up with a multitude of sources, instead of just one.

Maintaining loyalty through smart business practices

What is loyalty? Loyalty is when customers choose to use you again and again. Loyalty comes from within—and it must start from from the very first time you meet a customer, because that’s where you start to build your loyalty. Honesty and transparency in your business also builds loyalty. You need to know your audience and find out how they like to get their information. If you don’t deliver to their preference, they will go somewhere else (like your competition!) to get their information, product or service. Here’s a less thought of tactic: better writing can generate more sales. Brevity is important because the average attention span of a human today is 3 seconds, compared to 3 minutes, 50 years ago. So be creative, be succinct, and build loyalty through engagement.

These big publicity ideas for small business are simple starting points that anyone can implement. Do you have any tips or tricks on generating positive publicity for your business? Share them with us in the comments section below!

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like – HOW TO: Be a PR Ninja

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This post was written by a guest Cision contributor.