Ask Shannon: Publicity on a Shoestring Budget?

“Can you get publicity on a shoestring budget?”

Question: “What are the guidelines for publicity (go for broke, bet the farm, or be conservative/fearful) for shoestring start-ups on the web?”

– Jennifer Little, Parents Teach Kids, North Bend, OR.

Shannon’s Answer: Jennifer, thank you for your great question! I am excited to share some information with you that will be music to your ears. When it comes to publicity you don’t have to bet the farm or be fearful because it won’t cost you penny, just some good old-fashioned effort.

Publicity is free media exposure for your business, expertise, products, and services. Traditional advertising efforts require you to spend money to spread the news about your business. So when faced with a shoestring budget, why not learn the ropes and develop relationships with media outlets that are already catering to your target audience, and get them to sing your praises for free?

Where do you start?
I make no claims to being a publicity expert, but wanted to provide you with some basic guidelines for getting started, so I did a bit of research to compliment my own experience.

Going after local (or national) publicity requires you do to some research of your own to understand which media outlets to pursue, how to build those relationships, what types of stories and announcements to pitch, and what basic information you should always have available.

Publicity doesn’t need to be big and splashy to be effective, but you do need to make sure you are fishing in the right pond. Below are some steps that will get you moving in the right direction –

  • Compile a media list – A media list is your file on the customers, peers, media outlets and businesses that can help promote your business to your target audience. It is important that you stay on top of your connections, and keep their information up to date. Note: Be sure that for every person on your list, you have their permission to send them information. The last thing you want is to be labeled right out of the gate as a spammer.
  • Get on people’s radar – The best way to get noticed is to begin putting yourself “out there” — whether online, in your local market or both. There are opportunities everywhere for you to provide seminars, join social media lists, online forums, your local Chamber of Commerce or SCORE organization, guest blog, host a webinar, etc. Don’t limit yourself to conventional avenues, but do some thinking outside the box. You never know where a networking relationship might lead so keep your eyes and ears open.
  • Create press releases – A press release is a timely, engaging story or announcement relevant to a particular audience that you create and pitch to those for whom it would be a good fit. In order to get noticed amidst the many pitches reporters and news organizations get on a daily basis, think about how to be creative, innovative, or even controversial. Just as you work to stand apart from your competition, you want to stand out as a valued resource for the media.

How Do I Create Press Materials That Aren’t Boring? 

Writing Press Releases

  • Add a media kit to your website – A media kit is a file that you create so that media outlets can access details about your business. It should contain all the information any media outlet would need to accurately report on your business. I have included two articles with step by step guides on what you need to include in an online (and hard copy) media kit.

Create a Media Kit for Your Small Business 

How to Build an Effective Start-up Press Kit

Opportunities for Free publicity online

Publicity is also available through several avenues online. Some of my favorites include participating in crowd-sourced posts. HARO is a great source for regular queries, to which you can submit to be included as a reputable source for an article or post. I use crowd sourcing regularly with my Question of the Week, following the example set by The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur, as a way to provide my audience with great content from a variety of knowledgeable business resources.

Developing guest blogging opportunities or exchanges with other bloggers who are catering to your target audience is another way to gain free exposure to new potential customers. You are probably building relationships with like-minded professionals through social media networks, so extend the offer to write a post for one of your contacts on a topic that would bring value to their audience.

Blog Talk Radio and YouTube interviews are wonderful ways to share your expertise with new audiences too. Take the time to follow, participate as a listener, and develop a relationship with the host. And if you have a great idea to pitch that would be relevant to their audience, pitch it. The worst thing they can say is no.

Gaining publicity for your business is not rocket science, but it does take research, good planning and consistent effort. The best part is that the only expense you really have to worry about it your time.

To your business success,

For more information check out the following posts on publicity tips:

How to Write a Press Release That Works – from Sarah Shaw, The Entreprenette

The Pitch 2010 – takeaways from “Marketing, Advertising and PR on a shoestring”

Publicity on a Shoestring

10 Press Release Mistakes

Evan Carmichael’s Press Release Builder

Recommended PR resource I follow:

Susan Harrow, The Sound Bite Siren – PR Secrets

Ask Shannon – Do You Have a Question?

Send me your question about business, peak performance, mindset or any issue you face as an entrepreneur via this form.

You may be featured in an upcoming issue!

CLICK HERE to access my online form.


  1. Posted September 30, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Permalink | Reply


    Here’s one more great way to get the word out there – respond to articles like this. It creates a backlink to your website increasing your prevalence on search engines. The backlink is the website URL you want readers to see.

    Likewise – when a social media follower on Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn mentions you – acknowledge and mention back. It’s called social because its a two way communication.

    In Social Media
    – tweet where you want attention @DrReeceShannon #A.W.E. (smile) You can make a hashtag out of anything by adding #. #GlobalSafety #ClearCause. Learn more about hashtags at or by following @hashtag. Using the popular hastags gets attention.
    – like Facebook pages where you want attention and then post a meaningful comment on their wall and link back. Don’t spam. You need to respect that its their ‘wall’.
    – having a video on your homepage increasing google search ‘views.

    Happy Networking!
    Follow me – @SherylDHill or @ClearCause

    • Posted September 30, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Sheryl, Fantastic tips!! Thank you so much for sharing the strategies you’ve found so valuable and adding more riches to this post. 🙂

      I don’t make good use of hashtags but am not inspired to do better. So happy to be networking with you! Thank you for your support!


  2. Posted September 27, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks for a great post! I’ve been using press releases and HARO and have been getting some great PR in the last few months. I now have a media page and it’s very helpful.
    Thanks to this article, I’ll be adding a media kit with info about my biz.
    Could you tell me a bit more about youtube interviews?
    And now I’m curious to find out about what one reader said: presenting to an association made up of community journalists…

    • Posted September 27, 2011 at 9:34 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Trudy, Thank you so much for sharing your comment. I have really enjoyed working with HARO as a “reporter” and “source.” It is a great way to extend your reach and get some fabulous PR in the process. Adding a media kit to my own website is on the to-do list for 2012. As far as YouTube, I am a novice, but am launching my new show, Spotlight on Success, on October 20th. I am very excited about the format, where an expert and I will be discussing a particular challenge women entrepreneurs face and solving it with tangible and immediately implementable strategies. I’ll be serving up meat and potatoes on beautiful china for my audience. 🙂

      I too hope to hear back from our commenter about presenting to an association of journalists, because that sounds like a wonderful idea! Thanks for reading! Shannon

  3. Posted September 27, 2011 at 11:12 am | Permalink | Reply

    Servicing others too! Joining, say an association made up of community journalists is a great start too…perhaps offer to make a presentation.

    • Posted September 27, 2011 at 11:27 am | Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for your comment. Great suggestion! Do you have an association that you tap into?

      • Posted October 3, 2011 at 11:25 am | Permalink | Reply

        In terms of association, I would recommend that businesses get involved with their local chamber of commerce as well as the local Public Relations Society of America chapter.

  4. Posted September 27, 2011 at 7:40 am | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks for this great post Shannon. Often in business, we think “if only we had more budget” yet this post shows us that we can do a lot with a little. Great advice as always.

    • Posted September 27, 2011 at 7:55 am | Permalink | Reply

      Suellen, Thank you so much for sharing your comment. It was a great question to address for the first post of Ask Shannon, and hopefully will be an eye opener for some. 🙂 Shannon

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