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How to Get Publicity for Your Retail Store: Part 1

I just opened a retail business. How do I get the word out?

You open the newspaper over breakfast, and are dismayed to see a giant feature about your biggest competitor in town. You’re envious of the fact that this shop owner managed to get major media attention locally while you’re still trying to figure out how to market your brand.

Publicity isn’t a secret club you’re not invited to. It’s just a matter of knowing a few tips and tricks to get your foot in the door with local journalists.

Why Publicity Should Matter to You

You may not see the benefit of getting written up in your local newspaper or interviewed on the news channel, but this kind of media attention can go a long way toward introducing your store to people who wouldn’t have otherwise found it.

Haven’t you ever read an article about a brand, restaurant, or store and then visited that location as a result? Many people do just that. So it’s in your best interest to start building relationships with your local media.

What Counts as Publicity?

Essentially, you’re looking for any spotlight you can get on your business. Ideally, that would be a giant front page article about your company, but you can also settle for:

  • Being quoted in an article about your industry/community
  • Being interviewed on the news or morning programming
  • Being mentioned in an online article or blog post
  • Being interviewed on a local radio program

How to Get Started

You should start this process today because it simply doesn’t work if you’re desperate to get attention for something right now. You’ve got to start building relationships with the media long before you want them to write about you.

Whether you live in a metropolis or a teeny town, start by finding out who covers your industry. There may be several reporters at your daily, weekly, and even business, arts or specialty publications who would be a good fit. Keep in mind, you might want to connect with both feature writers and the business journalists, as your company probably has a few angles you could take from a media perspective.

  • Start reading their work
  • Occasionally comment on their writing
  • Pay special attention to those who write about others in your industry or community
  • Follow them on social media. Share their content and respond to their updates

Track Your Information

Now you need a spreadsheet. Any old one will do. You want to record some specific information about each journalist so you have an easy place to access the info you need once you start pitching.

  • Name
  • Publication
  • URL
  • Email & phone
  • Links to related stories they’ve written

You can even take notes if there’s anything important, like “she responded to my tweet about shopping local on 2/22.” You can always refer to any interactions like this in your email to jog her memory about who you are.

Keep Developing the Relationship…

Sorry to disappoint; I’m going to make you wait until next week to get more juicy tips for getting publicity. But don’t be impatient! This part is really important. It may seem like you’re doing nothing, but if you’re actively reading content the journalists you’ve targeted have written, as well as interacting with them on social media, this is pretty big. You want to get on their radar so that when you have something to pitch, it’s not completely a cold call.

But I’ll leave you with a few more to-dos until next week:

  • Link with the journalists on LinkedIn
  • Subscribe to their personal blogs, if they have them
  • Share their content and comment on it

Next week, I’ll teach you how to pitch the media, as well as help you determine what makes for a good story.

Photo: © PhotoSpin

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