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5 ways PR can help startups toot their own horns

Are we afraid to toot our own horns?

Recently, I read this piece by Carrie Ghose of Columbus Business First, Here’s why one entrepreneur ‘would absolutely locate’ his startup in Columbus.

For the story, Ghose interviewed the program manager for Startup Week, which was held here in Columbus earlier this month. He flew into town from Omaha and said, after his visit here, that he would ”absolutely locate my startup in Columbus.” He talked about the pros–such as its central location, talent, etc.–then went on to say that of all the things Columbus has to offer startups, one thing it’s lacking is “champions.” To quote Ghose, “In essence, Columbus needs to brag more and tell its story…”

I found this really fascinating, because as Midwesterners, we do tend to shy away from tooting our own horns…this can hurt us, though.

As a PR pro, I find that working with clients here in the Midwest differs greatly from where I launched my business in Silicon Valley. Folks there aren’t nearly as shy about telling their stories. PR is an integral part of startup life there, as it’s an accepted form of storytelling, or “bragging,” if you will.

This modest Midwestern mindset creates a challenge—not only for me, but for startups and other small businesses here. We need to get away from this “tooting our own horn” phobia and get more comfortable talking about ourselves and telling our stories.

How can PR help with this? Here are five ways:

1) Press releases: A press release can be written and leveraged in a number of ways (see my piece here on 5 ways to make use of a press release)

2) Social media: Use social media to tell your stories. This piece has a nice breakdown of which social media outlets to focus on.

3) Blogging: Use your blog to publish content and share tales of how the company was founded, the challenges faced along the way, building the team and so forth.

4) Speaking engagements: Get out and speak to tell your stories. This raises the visibility of the company, and you can promote it via social media and your site before, during and after the gig.

5) Contributed articles: Write about how your customers are using your products. Many times, industry publications accept these articles. Always check first to make sure they can use it before writing and submitting it.

Those are just a few ideas to get you started.

Let’s keep in mind, there’s nothing wrong with tooting our own horn….after all, if we don’t, who will?

 

 

How My Dad Inspired Me to Start My Own Business

dadToday’s blog post is in honor of Father’s Day.

Back before being an entrepreneur was in vogue, I grew up in a household where neither parent went to work at an office every day. Both my parents were entrepreneurs, launching their own businesses. My father was well-known in our city for having his own produce business that he ran for 40+ years. He started out selling produce door to door and eventually opened his own very successful market. The whole family, including all four of us kids, worked there. That’s where my early lessons in customer service came from (as well as my ability to add without a calculator!). In addition to working during the day at the market stocking shelves and taking care of customers, I used to love to hang out with my parents in the evenings and help with the accounting side of things, counting money and adding up checks to be deposited.

This spirit of entrepreneurship was ingrained in me without me even realizing it. Even with all the headaches that come with being one’s own boss—the technology issues, the accounting challenges, the sales and marketing outreach, the stress of trying to take a vacation—there’s just something about hanging out your own shingle. The freedom that comes with that and the pride in knowing that you are controlling your own fate are priceless. I have to thank my dad (and mom!) for teaching me these lessons. The interesting part is that I didn’t even know I was learning anything….it was just part of life at our house.

So, in honor of my dad, my first entrepreneurial inspiration, Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers out there. May you inspire your kids the way my dad inspired me.

 

Happy anniversary to me!

This spring, I’m celebrating the 14th anniversary of my business, Garrett Public Relations.

As I celebrate another year of being self-employed, I look back on the years since I launched my business. Yes, the business climate has changed and PR is constantly changing, but I still get so excited whenever I remember that I work for myself!

I grew up in a household where neither parent went to work at an office or company every day. It never dawned on me how much this had affected my own view of the work world until the past few years. I started to wonder, where did my drive to work for myself come from?

My parents were both entrepreneurs, launching their own businesses. My father was well-known in our city for having his own produce business that he ran for 40+ years. Both my parents and all four of us kids worked there. That’s where my early lessons in customer service came from (and my ability to add without a calculator!). In addition to working at the market and taking of customers, I used to love to hang out with my parents in the evenings and help with the accounting side of things, counting money and adding up checks to be deposited. Later, my mother turned her love of antiques into a business, even opening a shop for a while, and she still buys and sells antiques all these years later.

This spirit of entrepreneurship was ingrained in me without me even realizing it. Even with all the headaches that come with being one’s own boss—the technology issues, the accounting challenges, the sales and marketing outreach, the stress of trying to take a vacation—there’s just something about hanging out your own shingle. The freedom that comes with that and the pride in knowing that you are controlling your own fate are priceless. I have to thank my mom and dad for teaching me these lessons. The interesting part is that I didn’t even know I was learning anything….it was just part of life at our house.

I wonder now what my kids will learn, as they watch their mom run her own business. I need to find ways to integrate them into the business so they get a sense of what it’s like. Maybe they’ll catch the entrepreneurial bug just like I did.