In case you haven’t heard, the media landscape is changing … and that’s great news for small businesses.

But how do you take advantage of these changes to generate more publicity for your business?

I sat down with Dave Gerhardt, communications specialist at Constant Contact, to discuss some of the ways small businesses can best position themselves to generate more publicity for their brand.

Could you talk about the current media landscape and what it means for small businesses and for PR?

The media landscape is changing with social media and everything being online. In the marketing world there used to be three main ways to get the word out about your business. There was paid media, which is like buying an ad in your local newspaper, earned media, which is getting media coverage in the newspaper or broadcast coverage, and then there was owned media, which includes the properties that you own, like your website.

Earned media has always been the Holy Grail. Everybody wants to get a story in the paper or on a local TV station, but now with social media and blogging, everyone has a voice and the media landscape has changed. The most influential outlets are still there, like the Wall Street Journal or New York Times, but now more people have a voice. That means that print publications and TV stations don’t always control the news and you don’t need that home run piece of media coverage to get the word out about your business.

How can small businesses make sure that they are in the best position to build relationships with influencers and publications in their industry?

It’s easy to do and it all starts with some basic Google and Twitter searches.

Find out what the most influential publications in your industry are and who the most influential reporters at those publications are. Then start by reading those publications every day, follow those reporters on Twitter, and interact with them online.

My biggest piece of advice is that once you’ve identified the key media in your industry, read every day. It only takes 10 minutes in the morning and you can really put yourself in a good position by seeing what they are writing about in your industry and seeing what’s interesting to them and by following them and identifying the right outlets, you’ll get to hear the most important things from the most important people in your industry.

What’s your best advice for small businesses looking to generate more buzz for their brand?

Like we talked about earlier, with social media everybody has a voice, and as a small business you have a megaphone. You can go and interact with these reporters, there’s nothing stopping you. You don’t need a high priced PR Agency to do this for you.

If you read an interesting article, go post a comment on the article, interact with them or tweet at them and say “hey that was a great article.” Your goal is to just interact with them. PR, at the end of the day, is about building relationships and you can’t build relationships without having conversations first. You don’t want to be out there, interacting with the media and constantly pitching your business. You want to have conversations about things that you’re interested in. They’re reporters in your industry and that means that they will probably be interested in your business, so interact with them.

It’s really easy to do and it only takes a few minutes a day.

What steps have you taken to generate more publicity for your business? Tell us in the comments below!