The Art of Making a Splash Online
Tell a dramatic story that explains how you're different, and be candid
Q: How can I position my online art gallery to get the publicity it
--A.A., New York
A: Rise above the clutter by defining what makes your company new and
different and better than the competition. Don't dwell on the technical.
being online is no longer newsworthy, and reporters will yawn at your
speeds-and-feeds plug unless you are making something significantly faster,
smarter, or easier for your clients to use.
Focus your message on customer service, detailing how you're helping your
customers buy art and navigate the world of E-commerce, advises Harry
Pforzheimer, executive vice-president at Silicon Valley-based Edelman Public
Relations. If you can involve your clients and let them tell the story for
you, so much the better, he says. And be willing to talk about the bad as
well as the good. "The media is sick and tired of companies who can't stand
anything negative being said. Talk about your profits, and your jobs, sure,
but also tell how many times you were fired and how many times you failed.
you can't be candid, you don't want PR, you want advertising," says Jack
O'Dwyer, a PR industry analyst.
Can you craft a dramatic story and sell it to the press yourself?
Just be smart about who you're pitching and what they write about. "Your
press releases could go to traditional media, industry publications, trade
journals, and new media, including Web-zines, says Don Middleberg, who
specializes in publicizing the online industry at Middleberg & Associates in
Always follow up with a phone call. Make your case succinctly and stress
timely news angles. Don't have the time, money, or ego to toot your own
horn? Seek out a small agency or freelance consultant who will devote time
you that larger, pricier agencies will be lavishing on their mega-clients.
Get references from colleagues, competitors, editors, and reporters. You
someone with contacts, credibility, and personality -- not a $3,000 suit and
an M.O. that is loud and obnoxious. "A good PR person should be a door
who gets out of the way of your story. And it shouldn't cost a fortune.
not talking rocket science here," says O'Dwyer. Agencies get paid monthly
retainers from $1,500 to $20,000, experts say, or by the project, ranging
from $1,000 to $100,000, depending on scope.
Take the time to check with the Public Relations Society of America,
www.prsa.org, for agency lists, advice, links, and articles. And visit
O'Dwyer's Web site, www.1pr.com, to learn how small companies can choose an
agency without being at the mercy of PR spin doctors. Regional listings of
firms can be found at: www.webcom.com/impulse/prlist.html.
Have a question about running your business? Ask our small-business experts. Send us an E-mail at email@example.com, or write to Smart Answers, BW Online, 46th Floor, 1221 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020. Please include your real name and phone number in case we need more information; only your initials and city will be printed. Because of the volume of mail, we won't be able to respond to all questions personally.