As I previously mentioned, the key to getting publicity for your business is to make yourself newsworthy. The Muhammad Ali story is a good example of how one man made his own publicity opportunity by being creative and interesting.
To get your creative juices flowing, here are 20 ways you can make your virtual business newsworthy.
1. Do a customer survey and include controversial questions. Write articles about the results of the survey. The media loves survey results.
2. Create a top ten list about something in your business. If you’re a beautician, write an article titled, “Top Ten Most Popular Hairstyles for Women.” Top ten lists are very popular, just ask David Letterman.
3. Develop an annual award that you give out to someone in the community or a business in your industry. For instance, give an award to a local outstanding teacher that has gone above and beyond the call of duty. Or if you’re a supplier you can give an award to the “Best” business (customer) in the industry your service.
4. Offer surprising facts about your industry or business. For instance, if you’re a recruitment firm write an article titled, “The Average Starting Salary of An MBA Graduate is 40 percent Higher Than Their Pre-MBA Earnings.”
5. Piggyback off a national story. For example, when the rumors of a recession hit one business wrote a story about how their business actually improved as a result of the recession (It was a utility expense auditing firm).
6. Tie your business in with holidays or special days. For example, tell the media how your massage therapy business helps to reduce stress during the Christmas season and provides gift certificates for welcome relief.
7. Give a rags-to-riches story about yourself as a high school nobody that starts her own business and becomes successful. Remember, the media loves human interest stories.
8. Tie your business into something that took place in the past. Go to your local library and find articles from 50 years ago that may somehow tie into the product or services you provide.
9. Be first. Be the first to offer a 200 percent double your money back guarantee. Be the first to offer an on-site car wash with every sale. Be the first to give your employees ownership in your business. Think of something at which you can claim to be the first.
10. Host a “Kids are the Boss Day!” Hand your business over to your 14 year old kid or one of your employee’s young children for the day.
11. Run a “silliest thing” or “dumb mistakes” contest with your customers. For instance, if you’re a shoe repair shop, ask your customers for the silliest things they’ve ever done with their shoes. If you’re a sport goods retailer ask your customers for the dumbest mistakes they’ve made while camping. These are great human interest stories that the press will love.
12. Sponsor a local community service project. For example, if you’re a dry cleaner, clean the clothes for all the visitors of the local food shelter. If you’re a fast food retailer, hold a free lunch day for disabled children. If you’re a car repair shop, offer oil and lubes to the parents of boy scouts and donate all the proceeds to the Boy Scouts of America.
13. Throw a one-of-a-kind customer appreciation theme party such as a luau with Polynesian cultural dancers or a magical theme party in which customers can bring their children to watch a magician do incredible tricks.
14. Do you have a customer that uses your products in an unusual way or uses your product to become a high achiever? If you run a gym is one of your customers a bodybuilding champion? If you own a bike shop is one of your customers a champion trial racer? If you manage an electronics store do you have a customer who has invented a whiz-bang contraption?
15. Take on the sacred cows of your industry and challenge them. If you’re a human resource consultant, give employee-of-the-month programs a severe drubbing. If you’re a Taco Bell manager, tell consumers how “real” Mexican food actually tastes bland and boring. If you’re a Home-based Business person, write about how corporate America is suffocating good people.
16. Close down your business for one day a year and have your entire staff do a day of charity work. Headlines would read, “Local Print Shop Closes Doors to Help the Needy!”
17. Recently I had a client whose business burnt down last year. He built it back up and is doing more business than ever. Has your business survived a tragic incident (like the recession) and made is through with flying colors?
18. Write a general interest story about the problem that your product or service solves. If you’re a car detailer you could write about how oxidation and rust destroys the integrity of your car and makes it unsafe to drive. If you sell website services write about hosting problems or the effects of poor website design and how to solve it.
19. Why did you start your business? If you started your business because you were dissatisfied with the provider you were using (or the employer you worked for), let the press know. For instance, you went into the Italian restaurant business because the Italian food in the local area wasn’t authentic. Maybe you started pool cleaning service because of the lousy job service providers were doing on your own pool.
20. Prove a myth or stereotype in your industry wrong. For instance, if you’re a hot tub dealer, show a man who sits in his hot tub every night and has 12 children (meaning the hot water really doesn’t kill your sperm!).
How you make your business newsworthy is only limited by your creativity and ingenuity. Remember, there are no boring stories, just boring approaches to interesting stories.