A pair of Westfield moms who built a growing business aren't satisfied with their own accomplishments and devoted a special event last week to helping other entrepreneurial moms generate buzz for their fledgling and existing ventures.
Organized by NJ Mom's Guide, formerly known as Westfield Mom's Town, founders Kate Motz and Christina Castro kicked off the first 2011 Moms in Business Network program.
“Tonight we want you to think about what you can give to other people, whether its referrals, business ideas, or general advice,” Motz said.
Melisa Tropearno LaTour, owner of Cranford-based MTL Communications, told the women how to follow the simple rules for generating public relations and earning coverage in the media to help grow their businesses.
Motz and Christina Castro, the co-owners of NJ Mom's Guide, said the goal of the programs is for moms to learn best practices and trade tips in building a small business. Following a group exercise to establish PR goals for the various businesses, LaTour led a Public Relations 101 workshop. LaTour founded her firm five years ago, and represents everything from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies.
“The bottom line is that if nobody knows you are out there, you’re not going to make any money,” LaTour said. “You might have a fantastic product and can sell anything, but unless someone is coming to your door or the website, there is no selling going on. That’s where public relations comes in.”
LaTour highlighted the key differences between placing an advertisement versus getting publicity through public relations. She argued that while an advertisement gives a business recognition to one specific group of people, public relations is free placement that can be tailored to different markets.
“With PR you can cast a net in media throughout the country, and go after more people for the same price,” LaTour said.
She also noted that even though a journalist can write a positive or negative review of a business or product, business owners can use third-party endorsements from customers or other business partners can often build credibility and drive sales more effectively than an ad campaign.
LaTour explained what needs to be in every press release and how to create a press kit, as well as how to stay on top of consumer publications to ensure they will run your information in a timely manner. But she stressed that the most important way to be in touch with clientele is through social media.
“You must have a Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook presence,” she said. “The more presence you have, the more people will find you.”
LaTour added that MTL Communications has two people who work exclusively on its social media component.
Among those in attendance was Casey McKay of Westfield. McKay runs the Westfield branch of Stella & Dot, a nationwide jewelry store with Facebook and Twitter accounts.
“The social media and online networking tips were very the most important part of the event, and the presentation overall was very informative,” she said.
Castro and Motz were very pleased with the turnout, and in particular the diversity within the group.
“We had quite an age range and I love to see that,” Motz said. “I think this was a huge success, because every single one of these women is going to go tell their associates and friends about this. I hope we can reach moms of every age.”
Motz and Castro said they are finding a suitable date and venue for their next small-business forum.
“I feel like in New Jersey there aren’t enough of these events for women in business," Castro said, "so this was an opportunity to get local businesses to learn more about each other and make connections.