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Local public relations and media relations are just like salesmanship. Everything depends on personal relationships.

Successful local PR is developed over time. You need to educate the people who are going to tell others about the products and services you sell. While that shouldn’t be a complex process, it does take time. It is said that customers do not respond to an advertisement or ring up any sales in your merchant accounts until they have heard it an average of at least seven times. The same is true of the reporter or editor who tells others about your new product or service, such as credit card processing. They need to understand it first.

Where regional or national publicity can be rather canned and moderated for a mass audience, local PR is intensely personal. It is exactly like the difference between running for city council and running for the United States Senate. Candidates for senator hold enormous rallies. Candidates for city council have a salad with three ladies from the PTA. Your approach should be the same. Tremendous businesses and their merchant accounts have been built on the powerful relationships between a single entrepreneur and a single customer.

The third thing to keep in mind is any local customer also becomes a local evangelist. Since anyone your satisfied customer refers will likely be in the same area, you have exactly the same opportunities to establish a personal relationship with them as you did with the first customer. Those referrals also have the opportunity to simply visit your business on their own and see for themselves what a great credit card processing enterprise you are building. This is a fantastically powerful incentive for those customers to become invested. If they feel like they are part of something, they will grow attached and emotionally connected. Those kinds of customers are like solid gold fountains filled with gold coins. Here are a few ideas for obtaining local publicity.

1. Find a local charity and get your business involved.

2. Do anything that will get a local TV station good “B roll” footage. Think “giant inflatable gorilla” at the used car lot.

3. Visit your local Chamber of Commerce and get to know as many people as you can.

4. Introduce yourself to every local reporter you can. Make a special effort to get to know any entrepreneurs running their own blogs or news sites.

5. Be a source of useful information. This is both free publicity and a loss leader for your paid services.

Once you’ve perfected your local PR program, you’ll be one step closer to that appearance on the Tonight Show!