How to Get Free Publicity for Your Small BusinessNo PR firm? No PR budget? No problem.
If your small business can’t afford a big-shot PR firm, that’s okay: There are countless ways to get good PR for free if you’re willing to spend a bit of time and energy.
Here are six strategies that will get your business noticed by the press and the public.
Write a news story or press release
“You have to tell your story if you eventually want someone else to tell your story,” said Chris Sizemore, co-founder and CEO of marketing agency Creative Mischief. You can’t sit and wait for a reporter to come knocking on your door to tell it for you.
“There’s a ton of news sites that you can submit your own stories to,” he said. Many smaller local publications will share most of the stories or press releases you send their way. And being published can give you an opening with other outlets. “It gives you a piece of news that you can send out and say, ‘Hey, we were in this.’”
Offer yourself as an expert
Reporters and journalists are always looking for experts to comment on stories they’re working on. Identify your niche and share your knowledge with the world.
Gary Frisch of Swordfish Communications advised adding yourself to directories media contacts use to find sources. “Put up a free profile at Profnet for Experts, PR Newswire’s library of expert sources, which journalists can search by name, industry or keyword.”
Once you find your sweet spot, talk about it on your company blog and on social media.
Another option: Offers yourself as an speaker to industry associations and local groups, who are often looking for inexpensive speakers.
Get to know the locals
Sizemore said a good approach to getting free publicity is to simply be present at events in your community.
“A great way to build lifelong customers or clients is to go where they are — not just in the sense of that industry magazine or this industry piece, but in your neighborhood.” Building relationships with locals without always pushing your business’ agenda can cultivate goodwill, which will naturally broaden your reach.
“If you’re a commerce store, getting local recognition is extremely important,” Sizemore continued. Getting involved with local organizations, such as the chamber of commerce, will help expand your network as well as support growth in the community where you live — a win-win.
Support a good cause
Another way to get free publicity is to join a cause or support local charities.
“Corporate social responsibility is a great way to generate good press and goodwill,” said Frisch. “But I recommend going beyond a financial contribution and the cliché of the oversized check. Take a look at your business and find something that ties in directly with what you do.”
The more photo-friendly, the better. “For example, if you’re a limo service, offer free rides for military returning home on leave, and announce it to the community. If you’re an accounting firm, invite a local photographer to shoot your staff doing free tax preparation for seniors at a local senior community. Or stage an event at your facility that will raise funds, but again, tie into what your business is about.”
Recruit a celebrity
“If you manufacture a particular product, the fastest way to garner awareness is to get a celebrity endorsement,” said Natalie Maniscalco, CEO and founder of Retro Media NYC. “More often than not, many celebrities want to be paid for their endorsements, but every so often you get lucky.”
Maniscalco suggested researching celebrity publicists on websites such as ContactAnyCelebrity.com or WhoRepresents.com. “Reach out about your product and see if they are willing to accept a free sample. Politely ask if they are willing to post a photo on social media. And if there’s room for some budget, you might want to invest in a legitimate celebrity endorsement.”
Develop a strategy
“Especially for small businesses,” said Sizemore, “the most important thing is you have to start with a strategy. Just because it’s free, if it’s not your audience, then it’s really not worth it.”
Define your audience and PR objectives. “What do you want to achieve out of it? What are your goals?” Once you’re clear on these things, you’ll be more successful in any type of publicity and marketing initiatives you take on.