Thalasar Ventures

17 PR Tips for Start-up Businesses

This weeks guest blogger is Joan Stewart, a publicist and all around publicity hound. This is her post on the 17 rules of publicity for startups. Take it away Joan!
You’ve launched your own business, and you’re dying to spread the word about what you do.
But you don’t know where to start. And you’re intimidated by those other small businesses that seem to be the media darlings, or the ones that are getting all the attention from the bloggers.
It’s time to start claiming some of the limelight for your online or bricks-and-mortar business.
Before you do anything, vow that you’ll work as hard as you can to become an expert in your topic. People want to do business with experts. And the media wants to interview them.

Start by downloading the free 12-page White Paper titled The Expertise Imperative. It was published by my trade association, the National Speakers Association. Even if you aren’t a speaker and you don’t want to become one, the White Paper is still a valuable reference tool because professional speakers come from a wide variety of backgrounds, from dog trainers to management consultants. Our ranks probably include speakers with your background.
I love the White Paper because it shows that expertise isn’t only about what you know, but about what you do. Always be striving to take your expertise to the next level.
Now, it’s time to start doing some heavy-duty PR. Here are 17 tips for creating a powerful PR campaign and keep it running on all cylinders.

Offline or Old Media Struff

1. Identify the media outlets where you want publicity.
Target only those that people who are your ideal customers read, watch or listen to. They include newspapers, magazines, print newsletters, and TV and radio programs. If you sell products or services only in your own community or region, start with local media like weekly newspapers and local TV news programs. Target fewer media rather than more because generating publicity is all about building relationships with media people.
2. Research print publications.
Visit their websites. Call newspaper and magazine advertising departments and ask for a copy of their editorial calendar, the January-to-December list of all special sections they will publish. Then contact the editor of a section where your story would be a perfect fit and pitch your story idea. Once you’ve identified your best contact – who might be a beat reporter, for example—do an online search and see what you can learn about them. You might learn that they blog.
Read at least six issues of a newspaper or magazine before you pitch a story idea.
3. Research TV and radio shows.
Some radio and TV stations include archives of past shows. Listen to the shows to get a good feel for the kinds of topics they deal with or the kinds of guests they feature. If you can’t find an archives, watch the shows on TV or listen to them on the radio.
5. Identify story ideas about your business
I offer a free sample chapter from my ebook
How to be a Kick-butt Publicity Hound
, which includes a tickler list of story ideas that might apply to your business.
6. Start building valuable relationships with media people.
See my article How to be a Valuable Source the Media Loves.
7. Write letters to the editor of newspapers and magazines.
Comment on articles that have appeared in the publication. Weigh in on a controversial topic. Weave into the letter your occupation and the name of your company. Make sure you know the maximum number of words they will accept, and don’t write more than they need.
8. Write opinion columns and “how to” articles for the publications.
Contact editors first before you write. They might not be interested in your topic but might want to suggest another topic instead.
9. For the TV news, piggyback your story idea off breaking news.
If you’re a computer security expert, and a bad virus is affecting computers nationwide, offer your advice and tips on how people can protect themselves. Invite the TV cameras into your home or office.
10. Get onto the speaking circuit.
Plan a 20-minute presentation and speak locally to Kiwanis, Rotary and other business groups. Speak at trade association meetings.
11. Teach classes in your community.
Call the local cooperative extension service, Better Business Bureau, chambers of commerce, community colleges and the adult ed program in your local community and offer to teach a class in your area of expertise.

Online PR

12. Start an opt-in electronic newsletter.

Publish at least once every other week. Write content-rich tips, then promote your products and services.

13. Blog.
Post frequently. Offer solutions to problems your target audience faces. Optimize posts for the search engines. An ezine used in tandem with a blog can be very powerful.
14. Post to Craigslist.
This largely free community bulletin board at is a perfect vehicle for your message. See my article Craigslist: a Valuable Publicity Tool
15. Post articles to online article directories.
Write articles packed with information on how to solve problems your target audience faces, and post them to high-traffic and high page rank directories like at There are hundreds of online directories, but target those sites with a page rank of 5 or higher.
16. Write press releases and distribute them online.
My free email tutorial 89 Ways to Write Powerful Press Releases shows you how to write them and use online distribution services like PRWeb and, the Online Yearbook of Experts. Beware of the many free “distribution” services. Most of them don’t distribute anything. They simply park your press release at their website.
17. Post comments to other people’s blogs or at discussion forums that are read by your target audience.
Because one of my areas of expertise is writing press releases, I created a Google Alert for “writing press releases.” That’s how I knew that Brian DeSpain had posted an item about press releases at his blog. I commented on it, and he emailed me and invited me to be a guest blogger on how start-up businesses can do great PR. And now you’re reading my tips. See how easy it is?
If this list is overwhelming, that’s OK. Choose only three tips and do them. When you’re done, choose three more, and so on. Don’t try to tackle everything at once.
The more you do, the louder the buzz. And if you have a great success story to share, email me at and I might give you even more publicity in my own newsletter.
Publicity expert Joan Stewart publishes “The Publicity Hound’s Tips of the Week,” a free ezine on how to generate free publicity. Subscribe at her blog at

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