Using Publicity to Your Advantage

Dear Professor Bruce: I own a small management consulting firm. Lots of senior managers have been laid off in my area so I’m competing against more and more people. How can I stand out from the crowd? I don’t have a lot of money for advertising and my buyers generally don’t believe advertising anyway. I get most of my clients from referrals. What can I do?

You might be holding the answer to your problems in your hands right now – the newspaper could be your best marketing tool. Publicity is the least expensive form of marketing and the most effective. That’s because it is totally credible. People believe what they read in the newspaper and online media.

“It’s never been easier to get publicity than today because of the internet,” said Dan Janal, president of PR LEADS a public relations consultant who offers done for you services and discounts on name-brand PR services like press release distribution and media databases. “There are more media outlets than ever before and they need more content, which means more opportunities for business experts to get quoted.”

Keep in mind that reporters are looking for information – so you have to give them advice, opinion or facts so they can write their story. They aren’t in business to do an advertisement for you saying how great you are, so steer clear of any blatant self promotion. However, they will reward you by printing your name, your company name, and they might even print your website.

When you get that article, you will have a tremendous piece of marketing that will set you apart from your competitors. After all, you all have impressive credentials, but you will have the endorsement of the media and they won’t. That could be the key that makes you stand out and become the obvious choice to be hired.

Use that article in your new business meetings, put it in your sales kit and post it online. Send a link of that article to all your current clients – so you retain them; to your former clients – so they hire you again; and to your prospects – so you get them to commit to hiring you.

You can find your local business reporter’s name on the internet or in the daily newspaper. They might even post questions to their readers asking for advice. What could be easier than that? Or you could go online and find a PR consultant who can show you the ropes.

Bruce Freeman, The Small Business Professor, is president of ProLine Communications, a marketing and public relations firm in Livingston, NJ and co-author of Birthing the Elephant (Ten Speed Press division of Random House). E-mail questions to

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