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BRAIN: Expert Shares PR Tips for Dealers

From the March 1, 2010 edition of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News:

By Ray Keener

Retailers who have a public relations plan for the upcoming season will get the most from their marketing dollars. We spoke to Tracey Bradnan, who handles PR for Century Cycles with three stores in Cleveland, Ohio.

"PR is about getting your message out through the media rather than just buying ad space," Bradnan said. "It has more credibility than any ad, because it tends to generate more word-of-mouth in your community.

"Bike dealers have so many positive things to talk about," Bradnan added. "The sport in general, the environment, wellness, health, staying active, doing things as a family--the topics and media interest are terrific."

Bradnan admits that most stores aren't big enough to hire a PR pro. "That's okay, you can do it yourself. It's really not that hard," she said. "First, look into your own staff, your customer base or your neighbors. Anyone with marketing ability and a little focus can do PR."

She advises that retailers stay current on the latest trends by reading industry magazines. "Cultivate the few key media relationships in your market with a well-crafted e-mail for an upcoming event," she said. "Give them two to four weeks' lead time to get coverage."

Bradnan said retailers should return media calls right away and give staff permission to provide a cell number reporters could call if they're on a tight deadline. "If you don't call right back, they move on," Bradnan said.

Bradnan said reporters often come back to the same source for bike-related stories--a store owner who's responsive, lively and will call them right back.