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Extend Your Public Relations Budget Through Your Chamber of Commerce

Many business owners don’t realize how easily and effectively they can self-promote through their local Chamber of Commerce. In fact, only a small percentage of business owners take advantage of their Chamber’s self-promotional possibilities. The following tips offer smart, simple ways of extending your public relations budget with help from your Chamber of Commerce.

You can start self-promoting simply by becoming a member. The sooner your join your local Chamber of Commerce, the sooner your name will be added to the membership directory. Simply by signing up, you’ve immediately discovered another public relations avenue to explore.

Study the Chamber’s literature. A Chamber of Commerce produces its own unique print publications and online content, both of which are natural venues for self-promotion. Discover if you might be able to contribute an article, an ongoing column, an interview, or just the occasional expert quote. If so, make yourself available to the Chamber’s journalists and public relations department, and explain why they could benefit your experience and insight.

Figure out your place within the Chamber of Commerce. Having studied your Chamber’s publications, write an article about your area of expertise, and submit it to your local Chamber of Commerce as an example of what you have to offer to your fellow members. Be sure to follow the Chamber’s guidelines when it comes to things like word count, formatting, and style. And keep the article clear, concise, helpful, and easy to follow by any potential reader. You should present yourself in the article as an expert in your field; readers are attracted to this sort of confidence — and so are potential customers.

Treat the Chamber of Commerce like a new client. When pitching your self-promotional sample article to your local Chamber, present yourself the same way you would when you’re trying to land a new account or make a sale. Ingratiate yourself with the Chamber’s editorial staff; a friendly chat during a lunch meeting with the Chamber’s editorial director can be more effective than sitting down for an official pitch during a busy workday. Having analyzed the Chamber’s literature, you’ll be able to offer informed opinions about the ED’s work; an honest critique is valued by editorial staff as much genuine compliments. Don’t come off like you’re trying to bribe the editorial director with a fancy meal; instead, casually outline how you might be able to help during what should be a relaxed, respectful discussion of the Chamber’s editorial needs.

Keep the momentum going. After your initial meeting with the Chamber’s editorial director, start up an email correspondence. When the Chamber of Commerce produces a new print publication or updates their online content, drop the editorial director a line; each time, you can offer the same mix of honest critique and genuine compliments that you offered during your lunch meeting. The editorial director will be impressed by your ongoing interest in the Chamber’s activities. Pitch new articles regularly, but also be sure to send the editorial director ideas for articles that could also be written by Chamber staff or by other members. With each new suggestion or publication, you’ll be using your local Chamber of Commerce as an effective public relations tool.

Cross-promote. Whenever you successfully publish an article or column through your local Chamber of Commerce, link to it from your own web site, or republish it entirely, with the Chamber’s permission. Use them in mailings you send to clients and potential clients. And always keep pitching. Persistence is key. Your public relations budget can only benefit from the inexpensive, often free self-promoting methods offered through your local Chamber of Commerce.

This article, written by Ned Barnett, originally appeared in PR Fuel (http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel), a free weekly newsletter from eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. To subscribe to PR Fuel, visit: http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel/subscribe/.

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