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Positive press can be a huge boon for any small business. With limited funds for marketing and other message-spreading media, PR can help small businesses get their names out there at little cost. But positive PR rarely just happens spontaneously. A business needs to take positive action in order to generate that valuable PR. Thankfully, there are new and interesting ways for small businesses to generate this kind of publicity. By running various types of events, small businesses can attract the attention of journalists and other media mavens, which translates into positive press coverage. There might be no more effective means of spreading a small brand, and as noted above these productivity gaps can be closed by some smart thinking. What kind of events work best? Here are three ideas small businesses can take advantage of.

    While we all want our small businesses to do well, as in achieve success, we should also want our businesses to do good, like Superman. One way small businesses can at once do good and attractive positive PR is through charity events. By using their existing influence to raise money for noble causes, small businesses can create even more influence for themselves. The events needn’t be enormous spectacles, with an obvious intent of attracting press agents. While those kinds of events, such as 5Ks and other races, can bring big press, they also might not be that effective. Remember, the intent here is to do good first, not to generate as much PR as possible. PR is merely a positive side-effect. Something simple, such as wristband fundraising, can be just as effective. Hey, it worked exceedingly well for the Livestrong Foundation.
    Engagement. Surely you’ve heard this term bandied about recently. It is the latest in a long succession of business buzz terms. Like most other buzz terms, engagement is the oversimplification of a complex reality. It is absolutely true that people want to feel involved, and when they feel involved they are more apt to act. If businesses can make people feel as though they belong, they can spread their brand and enhance their image. Sponsoring contests and giveaways ranks among the most effective ways of engaging potential new customers. Giveaways hit at the low-hanging fruit, sending simple awareness cues to a population that might be unaware. Contests, on the other hand, involve active participation. By having people earn rewards, they’re more likely to remember the experience.
    One of the big benefits of the first suggestion, a charity drive, is that major media outlets might cover it. Inclusion in daily newspapers, websites, and TV broadcasts can prove invaluable for small businesses seeking to extend their reaches. But aside from these events, it can prove difficult for small businesses to generate newspaper headlines. That is, unless they force the issue and insert themselves into the news. Years ago Entrepreneur magazine documented many marketing stunts gone right (and wrong). The article is rife with examples from Taco Bell, ProShade, and Maui Beverages that exercise a subtle simplicity in generating headlines. The companies took bold measures, usually at little or no cost to them. With these measures they were able to extend their brands to customers who might not have heard of them, or who might not have cared for them previously.

The most important aspect of any of these events is good intentions. The idea is not to exploit charities, people, and news outlets in the name of positive PR. Such campaigns typically backfire, in both the short- and long-term. The idea is to work in conjunction with these bodies to create a positive experience for all parties involved.

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