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Wyoming Business Tips for Sept. 25-Oct. 1

September 16, 2016

A weekly look at Wyoming business questions from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (WSBDC), part of WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz, a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.

By Lisa daCosta, Teton County WSBDC business adviser

“I have social media and buy some advertising. My business is small, but do I need public relations, too?” Michael, Cheyenne

Advertising is paid media. Public relations and publicity are earned media.

Public relations relates to getting positive publicity and press about your business, and your products and services. Consumers do distinguish between advertising and publicity and are much more influenced by articles about a product than a clear paid placement. A study conducted by Nielson indicates that expert content lifted consumer familiarity with, and influenced, likely purchase of product more than 80 percent more effectively than branded advertising.

When should a business invest time or money in public relations? When its product or service is the best version of itself. There is such a thing as bad press and, if the product is not up to snuff, no reporter will cover it; the chances of bad reviews doing more harm than good is high.

Here are some next steps in readying a public relations launch:

-- Take the time to develop the business angle and pitch. Consider what makes the company and product interesting, and what are the angles, related to current news and trends, that the company can emphasize. Include in the pitch the company identity, values and culture that make it and the product different from the competition. Create a narrative about the company and why it is unique, then be ready to share it.

-- There are a number of free or inexpensive portals to find reporters or press release distribution channels, including Help a Reporter Out (, or, for small companies to target the right people and channels that matter for their businesses. Target the media venues and journalists who are already writing about your sector, and develop a pitch specifically targeted to each one of them.

-- Follow these journalists on social media like LinkedIn or Twitter, and comment on their work to start building a connection that can be used to introduce yourself and your product at the right time. For small or startup businesses, an effective public relations strategy and message can be developed and rolled out in-house.

A blog version of this article and an opportunity to post comments are available at

The WSBDC is a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Wyoming Business Council and the University of Wyoming. To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, email, or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY, 82071-3922.

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