Last week I talked about how more than half of American small businesses do not have a website. If you're one of them and it works for you, that's great. But as my previous post noted, if you want media publicity, having no web presence might work against you.
I'm no Internet expert and I'm sure for Internet-savvy readers this post is old hat, but if you are among the missing and "un-searchable," reporters may shy away from doing a story because you are a blank slate online. You don't want customers or competitors defining you and your industry,
perhaps in a negative way, without your voice being heard. Make it easy for
the media to find out positive information about you and your company.
How can you get a foothold on the Internet without breaking the bank? A little time spent doing online research could help. There are a number of free and inexpensive website and blogging platforms with professional-looking templates that will let you set up a simple site with 2-5 pages. You can always hire a designer to produce a more elaborate site now or later or perhaps your business will never need that. For starters, I would just claim a little piece of online real estate.
Create the site with basic information about your company, your products or services, your biography, contact information, location, store hours, whatever fits your business. Perhaps you already have a brochure or other customer literature you can use for the copy.
I'd also buy my own domain name…your personal name and/or business name and/or a motto or catch phrase about your business. The annual fees for domain registration are very low. Get the .com designation, whenever possible. It's a good idea to secure your personal name and/or business name now
for future use, even if a website or blog isn't in your plans just
If your own name or business name is already taken – look for alternatives. For example, I was looking for a name to connote "do your own PR" or "DIY publicity" or "get your own publicity," but everything was gone. I kept playing around with word combinations until I came up with "Help Yourself to Publicity.com." That worked for me and, though I haven't done anything with it yet, I registered the domain name. You can brainstorm ideas with domain name generators like Nameboy.com.
Even if your their business is strictly offline, a few simple steps on the Internet can shape the image you want to project to the media and the world.