Local businesses are the core of any community, but it takes more than a good product or a well-designed store to make one successful. It takes promotion. Entrepreneurs need to navigate the world of the media in order to create long-term success. At least, thatâ€™s the argument Athens resident and longtime journalist Amy Flurry makes in her new book, Recipe for Press. Using examples from her professional career as a writer and editor, and also drawing on the expertise of successful entrepreneurs, Flurry simply and straightforwardly constructs a plan for business owners to pitch their stories to the media.
â€œVoice and story are so critical to commerce,â€ says Flurry, who spent years meeting business owners over cups of coffee to talk about what they sell. As a regional editor for the shopping magazine Lucky, and later for Atlanta Peach and The Atlantan, Flurry realized she was in a unique position to help them reach a larger audience. When she did, the result was always a more successful business. Today, the push to support all things localâ€”whether itâ€™s locally grown food or supporting a small boutiqueâ€”is stronger than ever. Which is why itâ€™s a perfect time for small business owners to begin sharing their stories and their products with the media.
The method outlined in Recipe for Press nestles nicely with many of the philosophies already in place within Athens’ network of local businesses, where owners can share their successes and tips with each other, helping the small-business community overall.
“To me, there is this network of small businesses that help each other,” Flurry says. “It doesn’t work if you don’t develop a voice, [don’t] have great pictures and don’t give backâ€¦ To me, it’s all about old-school business: values, respect and valuing the communication you have with your customers.”
The book not only explains how to define your story and get it into the hands of an editor, but also includes essential details like how to follow up properly once youâ€™ve made a successful pitch, and how artists selling at markets can engage visitors and make a sale. Local chef Hugh Acheson, one of several business owners profiled, recounts how he was able to augment the promotion of his own twist on Southern cuisine through curating recipes for magazine editors and staying on top of the trends.
â€œI learned a long time ago,â€ Acheson tells Flurry, “that sometimes editors are looking for content at the last minute, and if I could turn around a request quickly then I would be sure to get the press and also high on the list of people they would call the next time.”
Promoting your business isnâ€™t something you do once and then sit back to watch the returns, Flurry stresses. â€œThe more you put into this, the more you will get back,â€ she says. â€œBut itâ€™s a continuous process.â€
Flurry also practices what she preaches, as the co-founder of Paper-Cut-Project with Atlanta artist and fashion expert Nikki Salk. The pair developed the idea of wearable paper sculpturesâ€”elaborate wigs and masksâ€”while looking for a creative outlet after Salk closed her Buckhead boutique. The result was a product that was uniquely theirs, yet specifically high-endâ€”and a serious media relations puzzle for the pair to work out.
But the venture has been a success, with ornate wigs recently shown atop mannequins at Christieâ€™s in New York City for an auction of Elizabeth Taylorâ€™s gowns. Other Paper-Cut-Project pieces have been coupled with products by Kate Spade, HermÃ¨s and Cartier. Photographs by Greg Lotus of a series of wigs made for Italian Vogue have recently been exhibited at Atlanta’s Jackson Fine Art.
â€œItâ€™s a luxury market, high-end,” says Flurry. “But the pictures are telling our story for usâ€¦ That picture needs to tell the story every step of the way.â€
Which is why, Flurry says, photography is so important in pitching your product. It could be an image emailed to a potential editor or client, or it could be posted on a blog or Pinterestâ€”itâ€™s another way you can control your voice and the product you sell.
The pitch. The right editor. The perfect photo. And when it all comes together to create a mention on a blog or a feature in a magazine, donâ€™t forget the thank-you note. When done correctlyâ€”following the simple plan in Recipe for Pressâ€”business owners can be successful promoters, too.
â€œAnd the thing that small business owners need to know is, when you get it right the first time, (editors) will come back to you,â€ she said. â€œEditors are always looking for new materialâ€”you just need to put it in their hands the way they need it.â€
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