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Alison on Money

How to give your small business some extra media attention using statistics

There are lies, damned lies and statistics, as the saying goes.  Still, government, industry and the media alike all adore a good stat. Among the press-release dross that piles up in my inbox, nothing grabs my attention like a startling number that highlights some aspect of human behaviour from shopping to investing.

And clever use of stats is one way small businesses can attract media attention even without a marketing department.

“You can get much of what you need to build a numbers narrative by working the rich data in the websites of governments, associations, boards of trade and other knowledge repositories like universities and colleges,” points out Margo Rapport, vice-president of communications for H2 Central, an integrated marketing and communications firm headquartered in Toronto.

“Dig deep for colourful facts and stats — and don’t stop at surfing.  Pick up the phone and ask questions. Your local reference library can also be a huge ally.” Rapport notes that small business owners new to numbers-based promotion should remember that the story is the goal.  “For some media, a news release works just fine. For others, like business and financial journalists, infographics make numbers come alive.”

Infographics, an increasingly popular visual representation of statistics, can be expensive to construct, but many industry associations regularly publish them and most are happy to allow a business to use the research as long as credit is provided.

To find out what kinds of statistics end up in an article, Rapport recommends small-business owners research  wire services such as Canada Newswire or Marketwired.  “Many of them feature numbers-oriented narratives. They can also identify good research sources.”

Another option for a more mature small business is hiring a professional to find the kind of numbers that will end up in a journalist’s story. “Use $2,000 to $4,000 as a benchmark for working with an experienced professional, based on the estimated hourly rate and number of projected hours,” advises Rapport. “Get interim research results and agree to put a cap upfront on searches that may be unproductive.”

Even the smallest enterprise can take advantage of our love affair with statistics. And it doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

Online resource

H2 Central’s Agora blog, h2central.ca/AgoraBlog, offers some fascinating takes on marketing and public relations for all kinds of businesses. It’s definitely worth a look.

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