British entrepreneur extraordinaire, Richard Branson, has long been noticed for his willingness to do outrageous things in order to promote his empire.  The irrepressible Branson, who reminds me of a naughty gnome, explains his frequent media appearances by saying, “Everyday television and newspapers need visually interesting stories to feature. We just try to help them out by doing interesting things in public places and making sure they know where we’ll be and what we’ll be doing.”

As the entrepreneurial revolution continues to grow, so does the media interest in stories about engaging small businesses. It’s up to you to take advantage of this curiosity by helping reporters and interviewers discover what makes you newsworthy and being willing to share your story and information with them. Here are some simple ways to get started right in your own backyard.

1. Make a list of local media outlets and possibilities. Study all of the newspapers, even the giveaway ones, in your area. Listen to radio stations and find out who does interviews on talk shows. Check area television programming to see who does stories and interviews with local people. Make this an on-going project, since the media is a changing environment.

2. Get to know the interviewing style and interests of local reporters. Listen to talk radio, read the newspaper, and study regional magazines with an eye to analyzing the slant and area of interest of various reporters. The more familiar you become with their work, the easier it will be to find a “hook” that will interest them in what you’re doing.

3. Keep looking for opportunities that are appropriate to you. One Sunday, I noticed a tiny paragraph in the business section of our newspaper which said, “Have you left corporate life to start something on your own? If so, we’d like to hear from you for an upcoming story we’re doing about career changers.” I promptly called the reporter’s voice mail, introduced myself and explained that while I hadn’t done exactly what she was looking for, I did have some information that might be of interest to her since I do seminars on self-employment around the country, had written a book on the subject and had talked to thousands of people wanting to leave corporate life. The reporter called and interviewed me a couple of days later. When the story appeared— as a front page headliner—my comments were sprinkled throughout the article giving me the appearance of being the local expert.

Another of my favorite tools is the lowly letter to the editor. If you see a story that deals with an area related to your business, your professional comments may be welcomed. You could write to applaud the original article or add additional information or disagree with what’s been printed.

4. Find ways to be visible and the media may find you. Numerous invitations and interviews have come to me because of my teaching in adult education. One of those interviews, went out on the wire services and was published in newspapers all over the country. In fact, Making a Living Without a Job became a book because an editor saw the course description in an adult education catalog and contacted me, starting a chain of happy events in motion.

So agree to be part of a panel discussion, accept the speaking invitation from your local Rotary club, donate a prize for your church raffle. Well promoted local events often get media notice—and some clever journalist might just track you down. Never underestimate the value of community involvement.

5. Pay attention to Joan Stewart and Peter Shankman. Joan, a former reporter, now helps small businesses get media exposure. Her Web site, Publicity Hound, is loaded with useful information and her weekly mailings are always full of fresh insights and resources. Be sure to sign up.

Peter Shankman is the genius behind Help a Reporter which sends out mailings three times a day with requests from journalists, freelancers and bloggers looking for folks to interview on specific subjects. I had two interviews that resulted in exposure in national magazines as a result of responding to requests on HARO. It’s a bit tine-consuming to monitor all the resources, but absolutely worth the effort.

6. Don’t be discouraged if your efforts don’t produce immediate, measurable results.  Of course, it’s always wonderful if your telephone starts ringing or you’re flooded with orders after you’ve made an appearance. But that doesn’t always happen. I remember a small business expert being interviewed in Time magazine and then publicly complaining that it hadn’t brought her any new business. She simply didn’t understand the process, although it’s easy to sympathize with her disappointment.

Frequently, the main value of media exposure is that it helps people become more familiar with you and your name. That may not translate into new business overnight. I often have people who show up in my seminars clutching old, yellowing newspaper articles about me that they clipped years ago. Treat media interviews as seed planting expeditions and trust that good will come from every effort sooner or later.

Inspiring people were turning up everywhere this week. The January/February issue of Ode magazine arrived with its cover story called 25 Intelligent Optimists Who Are Creating a Better Tomorrow Today. Most of the people profiled aren’t famous, but they’re sincerely making a difference. If you aren’t a subscriber, track this issue down.

Sir Richard Branson posted a video on his blog of a day in the life of Sir Richard. Fortunately, it was edited so it doesn’t take an entire day to view.

Since moving to Las Vegas and making frequent trips to California, I’ve become a huge fan of audiobooks. I’ve been listening to the audio version of The Millionaire Next Door which is a brilliant study that explodes many of the myths of the wealthy. The authors point out that even though less than 20% of all Americans are self-employed, a whopping two-thirds of all millionaires work for themselves. The values that showed up repeatedly in this group are thrift, discipline, economic achievement and financial independence. 

Another audiobook that I recently enjoyed was Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Good Business. One of my favorite quotes from this book comes from the late Anita Roddick who was asked what advice she’d give to a young person planning a business career. Here’s here answer:

Well first of all, I wouldn’t talk to them like that. I’d say, “Listen, don’t even talk about business—don’t be controlled by language. Don’t even say the word ‘business.’ Bury it. Talk about livelihood. Talk about a livelihood that you can create for yourself, an honorable livelihood that gives you freedom.” So what is the skill that you’ve got? Maybe you’ve got a skill and you can mold it into an interest that can create a livelihood…And don’t think big, because that’s the obsession with this bloody culture. It’s always got to be the biggest. Why don’t you just be the best or the most creative or the funniest or something?

Once the holidays have passed, it’s a perfect time to lay down a strong foundation—or strengthen the one you’ve got. To help you do just that, I’m planning to hold an Ideafest! in January and share fresh ideas and not-so-fresh reminders each and every day. In addition, four of my most popular teleclasses are making a return engagement including Goalsetting 101, How to be a Thrifty Entrepreneur Without Being a Cheapskate, A Beginner’s Guide to the Seminar Business and A Dozen Ways to Build Your Expert Status. If you register for 2 or more at the same time, I’ll give you a discount of $5/teleclass. You’ll also receive an audio download so you can relisten—or get the information even if you can’t make the live class.

Twitter is turning out to be my new hobby. Come on over and join me in the fun. 

I think entrepreneurship is our natural state—a big adult word that probably boils down to something much more obvious like playfulness. Drudgery and clock-watching are a terrible betrayal of that universal, inborn entrepreneurial spirit. ~ Richard Branson

The most passionate environmentalist I’ve ever known was Chris Utterback. To her, all offenses were equally serious whether it was defiling a public space with graffiti or chopping down a rain forest. She cared deeply for the earth and couldn’t understand why everyone didn’t feel the same sense of responsibility.

One day we were driving though the quiet Connecticut countryside where she lived and came across a pile of trash heaped on the roadside. She slammed on her brakes and we jumped out of the car, picked up the litter, bagged it and put it on the back of her station wagon. As we got back in, I sighed and said, “Planetkeeping is a full-time job.” Chris looked at me as if I’d said the most brilliant thing and without saying so, we both volunteered to be Planetkeepers. 

Planetkeeping isn’t just a full-time job; it’s a demanding one that requires vigilance and a willingness to do more than our share simply because it’s the moral choice. Planet-keeping is motivated by a sense of responsibility to nature and other people, whether we know them or not. It assumes that we’ll take care of whatever is ours to care for no matter how difficult or challenging that may be. Planetkeepers refuse to be influenced by the indifference or apathy of others.

As Marianne Williamson points out, folks who are part of the solution tend to be more optimistic about solving big problems than those who just fret. Here are a few idea starters for better Planetkeeping.

Master the 30-second commute. If you don’t already work at home, consider how much time and energy you could save if your office was only a few steps, rather than many miles, away from your living space.

Donate, don’t dump. Replacing your cellphone? Find a place that will recycle them or give it to a woman’s shelter. Cars and computers are two other items that can be recycled through community agencies. Start at Earth 911 to find out what’s happening in your part of the world.

Make your office or studio as green as possible. Go to which is a clearinghouse of information and resources. Another favorite of Planetkeepers is the sassy Ideal Bite site. They also send out a tip every day.

Vote for folks who are serious about taking care of the planet. And make a loud noise around those officials who are contributing to the problem—or who are profiting from bad policies.

Follow this example. Take a look at the way Virgin enterprises has involved both their employees and others interested in projects that make a difference.

There’s nothing unbusinesslike about sharing the benefits of your industry with happy, fulfilled people and a planet that is going to be there in all its glory for our children and grandchildren. ~ Richard Branson