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The Importance of PR for Small Businesses

In December, there was a horrible accident- two people driving at the edge of a steep canyon in a Hyundai Elantra, hit gravel, lost traction, and plunged over a 300-foot cliff.  Miraculously, the people survived without major injuries. Cloe Fields, one occupant, found her cell phone about 30 feet from the car. The screen on the iPhone 14 was smashed, and there was no cell service at the bottom of the canyon. Nevertheless, the phone prompted her to contact emergency services through a new feature called SOS via satellite.  The Sheriff’s department received a call from Apple’s emergency call center which provided the location coordinates. A helicopter search and rescue team was dispatched and arrived at the canyon to rescue the couple.

I read about the accident in the December 18, 2022 issue of New York Times.  It was covered in many media publications. What value such a story is for Hyundai and for Apple!  These companies could spend millions on advertising, and still not achieve the same result.  This is one of the best examples of publicity I have heard.

When I was in the restaurant and theatre business ages ago, we used in-house and outside PR people.  Max Rosey was one of them.  His motto was “What is not known is not desired.”

When we had events worth publicizing, we’d try to have them covered in the local media (no social media at that time).  If we could get a mention of a celebrity or interesting event at our restaurant, that was valuable.

When we didn’t have newsworthy events, we’d create one.  When we read that a brother from a French monastery was in the US to promote the Nuveau Beaujolais, we invited him to come to our restaurant and host a wine tasting.

Our Swiss Gaspard Caloz chef was a good focal point of publicity. He was very talented, and we prevailed upon him to create a gourmet peanut butter sandwich.  As I recall, it was served on French baguette. He prepared the peanut butter and other ingredients.

Then there was the Polar Bear Swim. Our restaurant had an expansive view and perched on a pier in the Delaware River. We concocted a Polar Bear Swim in the dead of winter, followed by warming soup for the participants. That brought out the TV news cameras. We were featured on the evening news.

Later in the banking business, we applied the same principles. We publicized our financing. We called ourselves the “Loan Rangers”.  The hype was completed with cowboy hats on our lenders in our advertising. Once we even had a Lone Ranger look-alike ride up to the drive-in on his white stallion.  Those photos were picked up in the media.

More routinely, we tried to publicize those whom we helped. If you’d like more healthcare businesses to bank with you, you trumpet those that you have helped.  Signs, photos of groundbreaking, and big checks all work.

T. Barnum said that he didn’t care what the newspapers said as long as they spelled his name right. Maybe we don’t want to go that far, but favorable PR is worth its weight in gold.

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