Self-employment spurs broadening interest

One of the big changes in how many US businesses are run these days is an increased reliance on outsourcing.

One of the big changes in how many US businesses are run these days is an increased reliance on outsourcing.

One byproduct of that change is the growing number of people who have left the corporate world and are now self-employed - those who make up part of the outsourcing talent pool.

But while the press has always devoted plenty of coverage to small business, these one-person shops have largely been ignored. That's slowly starting to change, explains Heather McLellan, corporate communications director for Intuit's small business division.

"Mainstream publications like The New York Times are adding sections that include some focus on these personal businesses," she says. "And Inc. has a section called 'Running a One-Person Business,' with how-to guides, 'ask the experts' sections, things like that."

John Stauffer, account manger with Stanton Communications, which represents the National Association for the Self-Employed, says there's also been a rise in vertical outlets, such as MicroEnterprise Journal, aimed at the self-employed and micro-business owner (defined as having a staff of 10 or fewer).

"We're also having a fair amount of success with city business journals," he adds. "The key is hitting them with a trend, as well as an example of a person in their area."

A lot of the concerns of the self-employed are the same ones faced by companies of all sizes, including taxes and healthcare. And though there are still few journalists specializing in self-employment stories, Stanton VP Lori Russo notes, "Because of the way the media is changing, more and more journalists are self-employed, and a lot of these issues we raise directly relate to them In a lot of interviews with us, journalist will step back and ask a question about their situation."

McLellan says the self-employed can't really be pitched as a traditional business owners.

"We're taking more consumer angles in marketing to this group," she says. "In many ways they're consumers first, businesses second. So rather than small business software, we talk about ways to juggle their work life or rearrange the office to be more productive."

Michelle Tennant, co-owner of Wasabi Publicity, stresses highlighting lifestyle issues surrounding a move to self-employment.

"Magazines like Success want to know about people starting their own businesses and the impact it has on the quality of their lives," she says, "A lot of people become self-employed so that they can pursue hobbies, whether it's whitewater rafting or some art or craft. If you focus on those, you can pitch a much broader demographic."

PITCHING... self-employment

Most people who are self-employed often don't think of themselves as business owners, so pitch them as consumers rather than as businesspeople

Self-employment tends to be a print and online story. TV and radio stations tend to focus on larger business stories, unless it's a very novel product or service

What most reporters covering self-employment trends want are plenty of expert commentary, statistics, and case studies to humanize and localize their stories

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