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Is it worth the effort to seek publicity for your craft business?

elle magazineWe tend to think that getting coverage by a newspaper, magazine or TV show is out of our reach. It seems like most of the news that grabs our attention is some kind of crisis or the latest celebrity couple breaking up.

However, there is a whole other area of publicity appearing in the feature sections of publications which typically comes under the heading of lifestyle. Lifestyle editors and producers consistently look for human interest stories, perhaps even yours.

Publicity is free coverage, but that does not mean it is not worth the effort it takes to get it. Ads get almost no credibility, whereas appearing in a magazine or on TV, gives you instant endorsements and can propel your sales to new heights overnight.

bust magazineJennifer Perkins started a Web site for selling her jewelry called NaughtySecretaryClub.com. One of her products got featured in Bust magazine, which often writes about do-it-yourself craft projects. As a result, she got a flood of orders which forced her to give three days’ notice at her job so she could work at home and ship out the products. Since then, her Web site has been written about in magazines like Elle Accessories, The Wall Street Journal, Teen Vogue magazine, the New York Times, and many more. Her pieces have even appeared being worn by actors in a couple of movies.Self-taught artists Marcia and Bill Finks created figures from rusted steel. After working for Sears and Roebuck for 21 years, Bill lost his job. They started creating art from old tin barn roofs found around the countryside. Within a few years their work appeared in publications like Country Home, House Beautiful, Home, Country Living, Elle Decor, Newsweek and also appeared on Oprah, House, and Garden Network.

carol duvall interviews james dillehaySeveral years ago, I appeared on HGTVs The Caroll Duvall Show. The HGTV.com Web site linked to my site from theirs. Even after the show ended, the link remained for years and has been a major source of traffic to my site.If you choose to go for publicity, create an online media kit where you have everything an editor might need to craft a story. Your media kit should contain:

* Fact sheet containing your craft business information, including who you are, what you do, where you are located, when you got started, how you make your crafts, and why.
* High resolution, professional-looking photos of you, you making your crafts, and several of your most artistic pieces.
* Video (optional) of you making or talking about your craft items.
* Exhibit dates, if you have craft shows lined up for the coming year.
* Previous interviews, articles, press clips, or reviews.
* Any awards or competitions you have won.
* If you have them, include jokes, funny stories, unusual facts.
* Contact information.

Here are a few ideas for getting editors attention:

• Relate your craft to current events. If there is something making the news that relates to one of your products, write a story. Reporters are always looking for items that tie into what’s being read and talked about in the mainstream media.

Write a story about the origins of your craft.

Announce any awards you have just won. Local newspapers like to feature independent businesses that receive recognition because it looks great for the community.

Write a story if you live near, work at, or sell your crafts in a historic or unusual location.

Take advantage of holiday gift buying. Feature editors always look for stories ahead of holidays. Consider creating a Web page for every special day with craft gift buying recommendations. Find out interesting facts about each special occasion and include stories to enliven reader interest. For instance, you could create a report on how Fathers Day came about and somehow tie into your crafts.

Donate a craft product to a charitable cause. Send a news release to local newspapers, magazines and TV shows with a photo of your piece. Anne Geddes combined her interest in prevention of child abuse through sales of her premiere calendar. Since then, annual Anne Geddes calendar editions have been bestsellers around the world.

The key to getting coverage is to be professional when interacting with the media. Respect their time and realize that any coverage they give you will help you get the word out and sell more of your handmade crafts.

With advertising, you pay for your message to be delivered exactly as you want it to read. With publicity, you have no say over what the media says about you. But it is free and it can bring you business so it is worth the effort. At the very least, what you do to prepare for media coverage will improve the appearance of your professional image.

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