Dear Karen: How can we get a press release published?
Answer: Make sure your press release is newsworthy. "If you want to write a press release about an upcoming event, but the event is not open to the public, don't go there," said Hilary Kaye, president of HKA Inc., a public relations firm in Tustin. "Focus on what the event is about; for example, a milestone at your company or a move to a new facility."
Don't expect your release to run verbatim; it's more likely to provide background for a reporter-written story.
Send your release to the appropriate publication. "If it's a local story, stay local. National media outlets need news with national appeal. Also, send your release to the correct editor or reporter. This is relatively easy these days, with most newspapers listing who does what on their websites," Kaye said.
Don't forget to pitch online publications. "This is where a lot of the news winds up," Kaye said. If your press release is picked up, mention it on your Twitter or other social media accounts, she said: "When you take responsibility for helping the news move further into the news stream, it's a win-win for you and the media outlet."
Small banks have money to lend
Dear Karen: Are my chances for getting a small-business loan improving?
Answer: Many large banking institutions are still reluctant to lend to small companies. But while national lenders got tripped up by bad mortgage debt, many smaller players were not affected, said Brian Hamilton, chief executive at Sageworks, a private company analyst in Raleigh, N.C.
"Many community banks are in better financial shape than the larger banks, and you can form a relationship with them," he said. "They're not in a crisis right now, and they're trying to get the word out that they have money available."
About one-quarter of the nation's 8,000 credit unions also do business lending, said Bill Hampel, chief economist for the Credit Union National Assn. There is a legal cap on how much credit unions can lend, but loans under $50,000 do not count toward that cap, he said.
If your business is profitable and creditworthy, and you have a good reason for wanting a loan, your chances are good.
Getting a piece of stimulus contracts
Dear Karen: Do small businesses qualify for the government stimulus contracts?
Answer: Small companies can bid directly on government contracts or work as subcontractors for larger corporations doing government projects. "All federal contracts over $500,000 require that prime contractors reach out to subs," said Cynthia Amador, president of Charo Community Development Corp. in Los Angeles.
Small firms new to government contracting should register at the Central Contractor Registration site, www.ccr.gov, and check federal business opportunity lists at FedBizOps, www.fedbizopps.gov.
The nonprofit Federal Technology Center, www.theftc.org, is hosting a series of free local workshops this fall aimed at teaching small firms how to get started with government contracting. Click "upcoming classes" from their home page for more information.
Got a question about running or starting a small enterprise? E-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail it to In Box, Los Angeles Times, 202 W. 1st St., Los Angeles, CA 90012.