Creative PR Tips for Small Business Owners

To be a successful small business you have to be memorable. Bland, uninspired, status quo just won’t cut it anymore. When’s the last time you got excited buying a box of Saltines?

To succeed in PR, you have to be creative and memorable, too.

Reporters are just as starved for authentic small business stories as consumers are starved for great products and service. That explains why I eat lunch once a week at a restaurant like the Noble Pig here in Austin, Texas and not at any one of 100 Subways or McDonald’s around town.

The little-known truth is that PR forces small businesses to discover what is authentic about their products or services, then find creative ways to make them relevant to a particular audience.

Case in point: yesterday I had coffee with a holistic medicine practitioner in Austin. He asked me what the secret is for a business like his to get media coverage in a market saturated with every imaginable kind of alternative medical practice. I explained that it’s a lot like the algebraic equations my daughter is learning in math class this year. (He raised a skeptical eyebrow, too…)

Since we’re solving for Newsworthiness, I told him, the equation goes like this:

Newsworthiness = ((C + T) – M) * E

C = Creativity
T = Timing of your news
M = Marketing schlock
E = Effort you put into the pitch

In other words, you are newsworthy only if you can come up with a creative idea about your business, peg it to a trending or seasonal topic (think seasonal allergies or New Year’s Day), subtract out as much marketing hype as possible, then reach out to the media until you get a Yes or No response.

Creativity is quite possibly the single-most potent variable in the small business PR equation. Frankly, it’s really hard to get a reporter, who is bombarded with news pitches all day long, excited about the same old Halloween pitch about a dentist who buys back Halloween candy because she cares about your kid’s dental health. Yawn.

To stand out, you have to be different. Bold. Outrageous. (This is where creativity comes in handy.)

Do something the seen-it-all media hasn’t seen before! For instance, the aforementioned dentist could create a list of low-sugar candies (still tasty, don’t be a total buzz kill on Halloween) that parents should consider purchasing instead of the normal teeth-rotting, stomach-bulging treats.

Of course you can have the most creative ideas in the world but if your timing stinks then you’ll get shot down every time.

Still, creativity is the goose that lays golden PR eggs so be sure you spend a lot of time coming up with fun, alternative, shocking or just plain goofy ideas.

The media will thank you for it because, when it’s all said and done, you’re making their job that much easier.

Happy pitching!

About Dave Manzer:  Dave Manzer founded an Austin PR and marketing firm for startups and emerging-growth businesses in 2009. Dave Manzer specializes in highly integrated PR & marketing strategies that help companies in technology, healthcare and professional services reach their goals in brand awareness and revenue growth. To contact Dave directly about the PR over Coffee blog, please email him at dave(@)


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