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Creative brand marketing is key to the growth of any small business, and it's important to explore alternatives to the traditional avenues of brand promotion.

I often look for unique public relations strategies that expose a brand's differentiator, and opportunities to generate interest with the media. A brand can exercise its creative muscle by seeding a product or service with the right media, and, with a well-crafted pitch, generate interest with relevant journalists.

For Catherine McCulloch and Cara-Lynn Nisenbaum, co-founders of SweetStyle Inc., a company that builds highly stylized custom dessert-table experiences, leveraging the power of earned media has helped to build awareness and drive interest in their new business.

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Since launching the company in March, the duo has adopted a cost-effective seeding strategy to introduce media to their company, and has seen firsthand the power of an influential mention.

Simultaneously, they've also fostered relationships with key journalists and other influencers that will serve them well as they grow.

"Our brand is built on the belief that everything we do should taste as great as it looks, so we didn't shy away from sharing product samples with media," Ms. McCulloch said.

"Our approach has been to deliver customized, tailored gift boxes containing high-quality treats to a targeted list of event planners, journalists, online influencers and venue managers."

SweetStyle targeted a well-known blog site for seeding its customized dessert creations. They submitted a photo of one of their stylized dessert experiences to Amy Atlas, a popular dessert stylist and event planner in the United States, who then featured it on her influential blog.

This delivered a huge awareness boost for the brand and introduced the company to an audience of prospective customers via a credible third-party source.

Brands can seed products with media by delivering customized gift samples to media or online influencers who reach a desired target demographic.

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One approach is to target media according to seasonal or topical events. A specialty food business might target a cottage lifestyle reporter with a cottage host gift basket containing its products; a new spa might approach a beauty reporter with an invitation to try a unique aesthetic service with a pitch for preparing for a Valentine's Day date.

Adopting a seeding strategy with the media allows you to share your brand's story on another level, and customize your product or service in a more personal way. Journalists may be more likely to feature your brand if you've tailored a product that shows you've researched their beat and understand their audience.

As a small business owner, adopting a creative media-seeding strategy is a smart way to market your brand and build awareness and credibility through earned media coverage.

With a little bit of research into a journalist's preferred topics and reporting style, you can tailor a great product-seeding pitch to capture attention, leading to high-impact results at a minimal cost.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Mia Pearson is the co-founder of North Strategic . She has more than two decades of experience in creating and growing communications agencies, and her experience spans many sectors, including financial, technology, consumer and lifestyle.

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