Little Giants need to propel their brand and their offerings. The trade and consumer media are eager to cover developments in e-commerce. So each needs the other. Many mature companies are media shy (sometimes for good reason) and many emerging e-commerce companies do not see the media as their friend.
There is a difference between good publicity and bad publicity, and it isn’t enough to “spell your name right” and hope that whatever appears will drive growth. There is also a huge difference between ongoing publicity, which helps to make a Little Giant look like a Giant, and no publicity.
So what do you do?
First, hire a publicist skilled in your industry. As with many services, public relations companies come in every size and cost structure with varied track records of success. I know of people who have been highly successful with the media who work with public relations company teams of two or three people. I also know of relatively small companies who disproportionately invest is large highly skilled public relations companies to propel their businesses.
Trade media is usually easier to access than general consumer media. Companies open to the media often make the mistake of inundating the trade media with press releases and the like. None of us enjoy the receiving end of telemarketing -; and trade media tend to be dismissive of everything once they have been bombarded. So pick your trade spots and over time you will get much more coverage.
Consumer media is harder to access. Key media participants welcome background help -; ideas for stories, suggestions of people to talk to and the like. The first goal is to “make the Rolodex” of key media who cover your space. When a story is breaking, they need people to call for comment. It might as well be you. The second goal is to be positioned in stories in part because of the ongoing help you are offering. A third, and larger, goal is to get broader coverage for an initiative, your company or yourself.
RosettaBooks was formed in 2001 when e-books were in theory around the corner, but the corner turned out to be eight years away. During the arid years, consumer media would occasionally look for a “development” in e-books to write about. We always did whatever we could to help those pieces, whether we were covered in them in not.
When Kindle launched and e-books became “hot,” we made a point of offering background information to the key media that covered the publishing space. The more useful and accessible we made ourselves, the better we did.
I happened to be comfortable talking to the media from a personal background that included politics. For those not naturally comfortable, like most other skills, this one can be learned.
Media training can be one of the smarter investments for a Little Giant. As can highly talented but also entrepreneurial public relations representation.