Tips for startups, Promotions 101 …

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This is a tricky subject since it’s on the editorial page — a page where no advertisements are allowed. That’s one message that is the same on editorial pages across the country: our opinion can’t be purchased.

With that in mind, we know this will come across as self-serving, but it really is genuine, sound advice for anyone who’s starting up a business or engaging in a for-profit endeavor: If you want us (or any media outlet) to give you credibility and to offer our full support for it, spend a little money on an advertising campaign. Don’t just come in asking for free announcements and calling press conferences to get free publicity.

Every good business plan has a marketing budget. If you don’t spend a good portion of that at home, it doesn’t build goodwill with the people who can be your most valuable mouthpiece — the local media. Especially if that media outlet, like ours, has a reputation for telling it like it is.

After seeing our coverage of the boxing matches at the L.T. Ellis Center, quite a few people told us that they didn’t realize there were fights here last Saturday night. We did do one story, but after that first article announcing the event, we didn’t keep putting reminders in the paper and we didn’t cover the pre-fight press conference.


We take it as an insult when people who are in for-profit ventures ask for our help without putting a little skin in the game, too. They ask us to help them make a profit, at our expense! We have to pay a reporter, pay our pagemaker/designer to put it on the page, pay our printer to produce it, pay our delivery person and the post office to distribute it …

We don’t get government subsidies. We’re owned and run by hometown folks. We like to tell our readers about things that are going on around here, but frankly, we don’t like to stick our necks out and lend credibility to events when we have no way of knowing how professional they’ll be.

That discernment is what kept us from reporting beyond the announcement of the National Urban Professional Baseball League. The league didn’t sound like it was destined for success from the opening press conference, and since then, we haven’t seen anything to change our mind. The other cities that were supposed to host teams have backed out and Laurel is the lone host for four teams that have to be tired of playing each other.

We admire the players’ love of the game and the organizers’ spirit, but it takes more than that to be successful. To be taken seriously, a good first step would be to clean up all of the elementary school-level mistakes on your website and press releases. That’s not being nitpicky. People make instant judgments about your credibility based on things like that.

And again, buy some ads. Don’t just look for the free announcements, sending error-laden press releases. A little investment with us won’t make us ignore reality and become your biggest cheerleader, but it will help us make a judgment about how serious your venture is.

The NUPBL was going to disband on June 30, but it was saved by a group of downtown businesses. We hope it becomes a rousing success. One way to do that is to spend a little money with us. We can’t guarantee that it will save the league, but we do promise that it will pay dividends.

And that goes for anyone who invests with us. We can’t make a chump a champ, but it’s good to have us in your corner.

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