A background in advertising, a full-service advertising agency, a willingness to write her own press releases and a friendly staff of two to answer journalistic queries and design an outstanding website.
What she doesn't have is a huge marketing budget. What an irony it was for her to find herself in this quandrum. Nevertheless, she went online and was able to turn to a few free and inexpensive online resources and in the process, form valuable partnerships.
As a one-stop shop, Michelle's services has real value to her business community. The services offered by Ask Communications are quality design, media buys, promotional items, artist portfolio and events planning but unfortunately, little visibility. That is until she went for it, and started self-promoting.
This is how she proceeded: Michelle paid to have the releases she wrote about Ask Communications appear on and be distributed by RushPRnews, an online press release service that post for free to the Web and distributes press releases and articles to online, broadcast and print media outlets to Canada and the U.S.
There was no membership fee or account to setup, just a direct email inquiry to the company. The distribution per release depended on where it was circulated and whether editing was necessary. Since the cost was low for a regional distribution, there was no hesitation to proceed.
She not only wrote press releases but also co-author a few articles for her online magazines and for the web. She find out that articles submission banks such as hotlib.com and others are a great way to get free public exposure. She also blogs intensively posting comments and leaving her "carte de visite" our virtual business card.
Considering that most public relations firms charge clients thousands of dollars in monthly retainer fees and that even an independent public relations consultant must charge a hefty per hour or per project fee, it is no wonder that so many small business-owners seek advice from the likes of Stan Seecrets founder of Seecrets Biz (seecrets.biz), and publisher of a free ebook Website Promotion Survival. This ebook is ideal for website owners, webmasters or potential website owners to provide a realistic picture of promotion and is full of practical advices.
Others seeks the expertise of website designer like Esta Weiss, aka The Web Witch, who offers free, with no-obligations website review as a way of attracting new clients. "In my opinion more and more small businesses turn to the Internet to find free resources and educate themselves about self-promotion," said Esta Weiss, whose next ebook will focus on website promotion. Esta suggested to do manual search engine submission versus automatic to insure proper categorizing. Esta adds “I know that manual search engine submission is a tedious task but trust me, you don’t want your telecommunications company to be listed under home-business opportunities, or other nonsense categories. It is worth spending the time.” She also stated, " The net is like a vast community shopping mall with every store being in direct competition with every other shop. And like our brick and mortar cousins, advertisement is everything ... on the net that ranges from search engine optimizing, to banner exchanges and more ... to get the word out and get noticed. Once you get them there, you have about seven seconds to convince them to stay, so good, user friendly, design is a must. A website is not a passive, put it up there and they will come, static affair, its a constantly growing, changing, living entity, that needs constant care and promotion to succeed and there are lots of tools and information out there to show you how".
These sentiments were also shared by Michelle Samek who stated, “I located RushPRnews in the marketing category by typing the keywords, free press release distribution to a few search engines. It was that easy once I looked in the right place!” In order to format properly her press releases, Samek used templates located on various press release service sites. She also researched her competition and saw what the focus of their news items were and took inspiration from these examples.
After carefully writing her release, she turned over the release to Anne Laszlo-Howard, owner of Rushprnews, who edited it with proper keywords for better search engines indexing. Anne also discussed with Michelle which distribution channels would be the most appropriate. Michelle decided to send her releases to business writers at regional media outlets, and also to publications who often write about women-entrepreneurs, in addition to posting for free on the Web.
As a result of these promotional efforts, her website ranking has more than doubled since the beginning of the campaign and her releases were picked up by more than two dozens article depositaries and attracted local media interests.
The cost for sending her two releases to regional and national outlets was less than $500. A nice bonus of this service was that now Google has pages and pages of back links pointing to Ask Communications and backlink is a definitive factor in obtaining high ranking. Michelle learned the value of research and proactive strategies by reading articles about her competition and see how they position themselves. She also got in the habit of writing feedbacks to the reporters suggesting to be included next time a relevant topic was covered and by offering herself as a resource for upcoming articles. "Nothing can really take the place of a really good PR agency," she said, "and once my own-advertising budget increases, I will definitely hire a PR pro, but in the meantime, I am more than happy of what I have been able to accomplish on my own with limited resources."
And amazingly enough, she even has drummed up businesses from places as far away as Africa.
Would you not say that it is pretty good for an Agency based in Alberta, Canada? We all wish for such success!