Small-business advice: Get free publicity by sharing expertise

Dear Karen: I have a small family business that sells earthquake-preparedness devices. We want newspaper and television exposure. Suggestions?

Answer: Position yourself as a disaster preparedness expert, said Michael Olguin, president of Formula, a public relations firm in San Diego. “Pitch yourself as a third-party expert that electronic and print media can call on during annual drills and preparedness events and after there’s a quake anywhere in the world,” Olguin said.

Create a blog, conduct surveys and write about preparedness efforts — as long as you know your stuff. “Do not go out and pitch your product by itself,” Olguin said. Your product will get publicity by virtue of interviews that you do on larger topics.

Free website software is worth a try


Dear Karen: I created my business website with software that is now outdated or not user friendly. Does WordPress software work for business websites?

Answer: Though WordPress started out as a blogging system, it now has many features suitable for running small-business websites, said Abhijeet Chavan, chief technology officer at Urban Insight Inc., a Los Angeles Internet consulting firm. You can extend WordPress by adding “plug-in” features.

“If your business website requirements are more complex, consider Drupal. Like WordPress, it is free, runs on the same platform and can be extended by choosing from several thousand free modules,” Chavan said. You can try both systems and see what works for you.

Also consider that your website is the public face of your business. Hiring a consultant to plan and build it may be a worthwhile investment.

Small-business questions? E-mail Karen at