Small Business Owner Schools WSJ on “Killer PR”

(Sarah Endline of Sweetriot – image cred:

The Wall Street Journal‘s Kelly Spors kept running into Sarah Endline, founder and chief executive chocolate-covered cacao beans seller Sweetriot. She was on an MSNBC panel with her, interviewed her for a story, heard about a co-worker who featured her in a story.

Being the smart reporter that she is, Kelly put two and two together and thought this not to be just a coincidence, but smart PR. Intrigued, she called up Endline, who shared with her the following 5 pointers for getting killer media coverage.

1) Attend events. Many of her introductions with journalists are at trade shows and other events. Every January, for instance, Ms. Endline attends the Sundance Film Festival and hands out samples of her cacao beans and chats with celebrities, and often gets Sweetriot mentioned in celebrity-hounding zines.

2) Find compelling themes. Ms. Endline has identified two angles that reporters find intriguing about Sweetriot: its a fast-growth start-up with many entrepreneurial traits and marketing tactics and its unique product. She promotes those aspects when talking about the company and telling its story.

3) Take advantage of opportunities for publicity. Sweetriot applied for Fortune Small Business’s 2007 business-plan competition and ended up with a nice write up and big pic of herself.

4) Be accessible and open. Journalists often work on tight deadlines. So when one calls asking for an interview, call them back quickly. (I’ve never waited more than 30 minutes for Ms. Endline to return my call.) She happily talks about nearly any aspect of her business from fund-raising strategies to annual revenues and marketing tactics. Journalists love that.

5) Devote time. If you think PR will help your company, make time for it. It can’t be just something you try to squeeze into your free time between sales meetings. It takes time, persistence and strategy.