6 Tips For Getting Free PR From Harvest Lane Honey

6 Tips For Getting Free PR From Harvest Lane Honey

Originally posted on Forbes

Mindy Waite, her husband Jason and parents Mike and Rhonda Wells started Harvest Lane Honey, of Toole, Utah, in 2006. The family first began keeping bees as way to pollinate their garden. But once they had the bees, they also needed equipment, and found the options available to be inadequate for their needs. So they made their own supplies in the family garage.

Soon, other beekeepers were asking to buy the custom equipment and Harvest Lane Honey was born. The firm progressed to online sales and then to retail establishments. Today the company has grown from the garage to a 20,000 sq. ft. production facility with 25 full-time and 8 part-time employees. The team sells honey, bees, high-quality woodware hives and beekeeping products to customers and retailers nationwide. All four owners have come to be known as industry experts.

Although the business began as a hobby, all four owners brought prior entrepreneurial background into the mix. Rhonda Wells had owned her own small business for 25 years prior to HLH. Husband Mike Wells had worked in executive management in law enforcement for 35 years. Jason Waite’s background in architecture and woodworking was vital to the original designs of their hives. Mindy Waite had worked for 10 years in the Western regional operations center of a Fortune 50 retail company.

It was husband Jason and mom Rhonda who compelled the family to begin their beekeeping adventures. Mindy wanted to sell the supplies as a way to pay for the family “hobby,” she says. Mike, after he retired, was responsible for the group's first retail connection. It is clearly a family venture. “Three of the 25 employees are my sisters, who I trust more than anyone,” Mindy says, “They are giving 110% to our dream and our goal.”

The family keeps 50-150 hives of their own every year, depending on the loss rate from the prior season. In addition to finding good stewards for bees, the family believes that backyard beekeeping may the factor that reverses the decline of the honeybee.

“Before World War II, people kept bees for the honey, and during the war they kept bees to offset sugar rations,” she says.  “After the war, as people moved away from the farms, beekeepers declined. But people are now realizing that with more food consumption, we need more bees to pollinate crops.” As the team is out and teaching they hear stories in every class of individuals who want to take up beekeeping as a way to be doing their part.

Now 10 years old, Harvest Lane Honey has been successful in spreading its story without PR agencies or agents. In our interview, Mindy shared the ideas she’s developed for getting her own PR in the following six tips for other entrepreneurs:

  1. “We took advantage of other vendors looking to promote their products by publishing feature stories on us.” For example, a regional company called LogoUp loved the company’s logo and agreed to publish a story about HLH and why and how they distribute the logo wear they sell to customers worldwide in quantities ranging from a single suit to orders of 1,000 units or more.
  1. “We had a machinery company we use asked about our mission and purpose, and published a story on how their machines have helped us fulfill this.” Yet again, feature stories about HLH were appearing for free. From here, the company progressed to thought leadership.
  1. “We provided our Internet partners with content for their websites and articles that talk about beekeeping and include our company’s products. We made ourselves the experts that dealers trusted.” In this, Waite took advantage of the fact that stories sell, and are more compelling to prospective customers than press releases, flyers and sales.
  1. “We are always willing to act on any request for good content.” Waite points out the importance of thinking through the company’s story and the elements that would be interesting or education for others. The stories that talk about the company’s history and purpose are particularly compelling to readers and help to not only raise awareness of the company and its products, but also creates brand loyalty as readers learn of the company’s history and purpose.
  1. “We send free product samples to bloggers and writers that are part of our industry.” Waite sought out clubs and organization that do beekeeping. The company provided door prizes and giveaways in in exchange for ad space. “Don't be afraid to ask about how to be featured in your favorite magazine,” she suggests.
  1. “We made a deal with a hobby magazine to work a trade. We allow them to provide magazine subscription cards that we insert in our product packaging, and in return we get prime centerfold placement for our company ads."

In short, the company has become an avid and respected leader in its category by providing educational videos, stories and pictures and other informational images on social media and in all available online and trade magazines. Waite has become an expert in asking the question, “Who can help?” and working out mutually beneficial visibility via trades. The activities spur interest, but also create product loyalty and trust among the company’s clients and dealers. Everyone wins.

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