MBOMBELA - When starting up a business it is important to budget for marketing and make sure you choose the right media partner when spreading the news about your venture.

After a 25-year-long career in the local newspaper industry, Ms Irma Green, National Group Editor: Caxton Local Newspapers, is equipped to give advice on how to interact on various media platforms. She recently spent time with Ms Phephsile Maseko, winner of Bring Change Lowveld and gave her some tips on media liaison and how to make media work for her.

Maseko first had the opportunity to experience how a newspaper is produced when Green took her through the different steps of production. Seeing the pages come off the press and experiencing the energy of a news office, was an enlightening experience for Maseko and she had a greater understanding of the time and effort it takes to get the paper on the street. Green explained to her that she would probably have to deal with many different types of deadlines in years to come, and that she wanted her to fully understand why they are in place.

"I can show you what the repercussions are for us when clients don't adhere to these deadlines and that there are cost implications for us," she explained and then took her through the process from booking adverts, submitting advertising material until it went to press. Green said marketing can be a costly exercise but that businesses which create a long-term relationship with their media partners, could benefit greatly from the added value exposure they could get. She said the success of a company affected the local economy and impacted on their own industry as less money is spent on advertising when businesses suffer. "This is where one could become more creative," she explained. "Your new business has a very unique story to it. You make various skincare and health products from the marula. You are creating work and the business will impact your community. It is an opportunity to get publicity without spending money," Green said. She told Maseko that once her product was on the market, it would provide a second opportunity for publicity. The launch event of the project could lead to more publicity. Green said an advertising campaign that could then support the newsworthy part, would help the product gain market share. She said advertising needed to be done correctly otherwise it would be money wasted.

She gave Maseko a few pointers:

1. Draw up a media and marketing plan and include a timeline of when newsworthy articles can be published.

2. Be creative and think of interesting adverts you could run.

3. If you have a limited budget, rather advertise small in a number of consecutive newspapers than placing one large advert.

4. Include online advertising which is relatively cheap and consider interesting concepts like a home-page takeover where you flood the opening page of your host for a specific time.

5. When deciding where to advertise, make sure the publications are affiliated and adheres to the press ombudsman rules.

6. Ask the representative whether the publication's distribution is audited by the Audited Bureau of Circulation. If not, the distribution claims can not be monitored and your message may never reach its intended market.

7. Ask for the readership profile and the area the publication serves when deciding on the vehicle for your advertising.

8. Support your campaign with advertising on community radio stations and let the listener profile determine which station you are going to choose.

9. When you hit hard times and you may have to deal with enquiries from the media, be open and frank. Rather explain your situation to the editor than ignoring the situation, as it will reflect poorly.

10. Be bold and brave when putting on your marketing shoes. Always capitalise on opportunities in your business. Don't only focus on making the product or delivering the service, make sure everyone knows about it.

Green said her own business principles were based on honesty, integrity and loyalty. "I have attended many business launches and have seen many close down. But those that survived have always done their business with integrity and placed client service at the top of their priority list. It is not easy. Even in our own business we have to be mindful and we often make mistakes. Acknowledging it and trying to make amends, will make sure your stay around for much longer."

Every four years the Caxton Group does intensive research into local markets and studies consumer behaviour. This study gives insight into the buying habits, lifestyle choices and various interesting behaviour patterns of the community. The most recent ROOTS study has just been completed and road shows will be held across the country to share the information with readers. Green shared with Maseko that an average of 72 per cent of people in the communities were still avid readers of their local newspaper. "So, if your potential market is reading our publications, then you need to jump on our bandwagon and reach them effectively by using our stable of publications for advertising," she concluded.

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