If you're a new contender in your industry, chances are one of your first orders of business is to get your name out there and elevate your credibility as a reputable brand. But in order to do that, you'll need to devise a strategic PR approach that includes building valuable relationships with key stakeholders like journalists and your target audience.

These six entrepreneurs share their best tips for getting noticed -- and showcasing exactly what you bring to the table.

Dissect your local periodicals.

If you break down how your community's magazines and newspapers are put together, you'll uncover some new opportunities you may not have originally considered.

Brandon Stapper, CEO of printing business 858 Graphics, uses this hack to identify new areas to pitch: "Take a look at your local newspaper or magazine and peel it apart like an editor. There may be two-sentence entries in the classified ads, two-paragraph stories on page five and eight, seemingly random mentions on the calendar of events page, feature stories on pages one and three, etc." he says. "Now you have five or six ways to work the PR circuit, not just one."

Talk to journalists like people.

If you prioritize building meaningful connections rather than pestering journalists to cover your business, you'll find your outreach efforts will pay off in the long run.

"Press releases have a time and a place, but I have found it is best to build relationships with the people covering your space and talk to them like you would anyone else," says Douglas Hutchings, CEO of solar power business Picasolar. "Make it easy to relate to their goals and objectives (writing relevant content). What you think is important may not be relevant to their target audience, but engaging in conversation enables you to spread your word."

Partner with your Chamber of Commerce.

"Local Chambers of Commerce have a variety of programs and services that can be underwritten by businesses," says Nicole Munoz, founder and CEO of SEO and marketing company StartRankingNow. "This is a great way to get your company's name out in the community, particularly if they have an extensive reach."

Munoz offers free marketing automation workshops to Chamber members who showcase what she does while helping local businesses solve problems.

Look to the comments section on existing press mentions.

What's the quickest way to turn a negative PR situation into a positive one? Respond swiftly -- and professionally -- to any negative comments you receive regarding your brand online.

"Each time you get significant ink, you will have [negative] comments online," says Brennan White, CEO of intelligent platform Cortex. "Find some of the least positive comments and engage with them. Listen to what they're saying and understand their side. If done well, the commenter receives the social value of the author catering to their expectations and often publicly retracts their statement."

White believes this act will position any founder as a gracious and caring leader.

Don't underestimate non-traditional media channels.

As a new startup, you may be eager to get your name in magazines and on TV. But before you can do that, Leila Lewis, founder and CEO of wedding PR agency Be Inspired PR, advises not getting so hung up on these traditional media channels up front.

"While those [channels] do carry clout, what most startups actually need is website traffic, brand awareness and a customer base," she says. "The absolute best place to build that is through online press and social media influencer outreach. Don't underestimate these platforms."

Rock that company swag.

If you haven't quite made it to the "big leagues" yet of having your business featured in high-profile publications, consider what wearing branded clothing and accessories can do for heightening awareness.

"Branded company shirts and jackets are relatively low cost and well worth it for the amount of exposure you'll get from these walking advertisements," says Roger Lee, CEO of financial technology business Captain401.

"Your employees are the best ambassadors of your brand, and as long as the design is wearable and not too cheesy, they'll be happy to wear it around town and positively represent your company to the general public," he says.

Published on: Apr 3, 2017