“Can you get publicity on a shoestring budget?”
– 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.
- 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.
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,
How to Write a Press Release That Works – from Sarah Shaw, The Entreprenette
Recommended PR resource I follow:
Susan Harrow, The Sound Bite Siren – PR Secrets