Public relations can be expensive. Just think about what goes into writing a press release: you probably need a paid employee whose job it is to write one. Then, for more than your website visitors to read it, you have to pay a PR wire service. To directly send the pitch to journalists, you probably need a subscription to a media list database.
And then you realize that press releases are only one facet of your PR strategy and want to cry as your bank account gets smaller.
But it doesn't need to be that way.
There are more and more free public relations services that are perfect for the small business who doesn't have a large PR department or the budget to work with an agency. Below are four of our favorites here on eZanga PR Island (the name of our section of cubicles):
1. Technorati - Fuel Your Blogger Outreach
Technorati is a blog directory that has been around since 2002 and indexes millions upon millions of blogs. These blogs are sorted by category and subcategory, making it easy to find blogs in your company's niche market.
So, how can you use this? Let's say you're an e-commerce company that sells golf clothing and equipment. You're looking to start a campaign around the release of a new gold club. You could make a list of golf blogs to solicit and begin making your way down the list.
When you found blogs that may be open to writing about your new clubs, you would come up with an awesome outreach strategy and begin pitching those blogs.
2. HARO - Get Media Coverage Opportunities in Your Inbox
We've written about HARO (Help a Reporter Out) before, but we love it so much it's worth mentioning again. HARO is wonderful. With the free account, you can receive a digest of publicity opportunities three times a day via email.
The emails are full of bloggers and journalists looking for sources for their next story. Choose the ones that apply to your small business, and pitch them without ever leaving your email! It's gotten our company some great coverage from the service in the past.
3. Twitter Lists - Keep up With Industry Journalists
If you're not heavily utilizing Twitter lists, whether for public relations or something else, you're making your activity on social media a lot harder than it needs to be. They're a great way to organize your network into categories, and especially useful for connecting to journalists. You can even bulk add users to lists using third-party tools.
My favorite way as a PR pro to use Twitter lists is to create a list of media contacts. Whenever you pitch or contact a journalist or publication, add them to the Twitter list. Keep track of who covers your company, your competitors, and your industry. You can make the list private so they can't even see you're keeping tabs on them. Keeping up with them on social can even form a relationship that will give you a better chance of them picking up your next piece of news.
4. Google Alerts (or Similar Service) - Track Mentions of Your Small Business
You're doing all of these blogger outreach campaigns, HARO pitches, and social media tracking. The goal for all of this is to earn media coverage. Now you need a way to track your results. There are a ton of services to help you do that, including Google Alerts, Talkwalker, and Mention.
Set up alerts for your company name, product names, competitors, and any public-facing employees (or all employees). This way, as soon as something related to your company is talked about on the internet, you know about it. If it's positive, you can promote the content. If it's negative, you're aware of the issue and can follow your company's crisis communication plan to deal with it.