(Updated September 4, 2018)
Startup and small business PR can be tricky. Limited budgets and scant resources are a source of frustration for many who first enter the public relations ring against giant companies with deep pockets and deeper connections. But don't give up just yet.
When you boil it down, the size of your company doesn’t have to be a deal breaker -- nor does your budget. Just because you don’t have the deep pockets of bigger B2B companies does not mean you can't develop startup PR tactics that put your brand on the map.
When you do PR for startups, you have to choose your PR tactics carefully. That is why we've assembled a simple, but effective, list of budget friendly PR strategies (some of them even free!) that you can utilize right now.
Small Business PR, Meet Budget Friendly Strategies
1. Attach Your Startup to an Influencer
An influencer has a lot more clout than your average customer -- and is a relatively inexpensive way to generate excitement for your startup PR.
Begin to engage with influencers by following them on social media and commenting on what they say. Once you have developed an online relationship -- and only then -- reach out. See if you can offer a demo or free use of your product or service in return for a mention.
2. Sign Up For HARO
HARO stands for Help A Reporter Out, and is a free service that connects you with journalists who are working on articles.
Once you sign up, you will receive daily emails with source requests from various reporters. When you see an opportunity that fits your small business PR needs, craft and send a pitch that fits that opportunity. The ball is then in the reporter's court who can reach out if interested.
3. Leverage Facebook Live Video
Video is rapidly becoming a powerful force in B2B marketing. Are you leveraging this influential tool in your startup PR? If not, there’s no better way to begin than with Facebook Live. It’s free, and easy to implement.
Gain a larger audience by scheduling and announcing the topic, date, and time in advance. Then your audience can log on to see it at that time, or know to look it up later.
4. Promote Your Facebook Posts
Facebook offers a number of resources to marketers, including nifty audience demographics tools that help you zone in on your ideal audience. And the real kicker? It's not costly. You’ll only need to spend from $10 to $300, depending on the services you choose.
5. Join Conversations on Twitter
Twitter is a valuable, budget-friendly resource. Create a branded Twitter page, and from there start generating buzz about your business, boost your brand awareness, and establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry.
Twitter also allows you to follow and join in on various discussions. Keep track of industry-specific hashtags and keywords that will allow you to hone in on hot-button conversations. Share your expertise when appropriate, and get your small business’s name into people’s minds.
You can also host (or co-host if you don’t yet have an established audience) a Twitter chat, possibly in an “Ask the Expert”-type setting. Promote this chat ahead of time with multiple tweets about the date and time, as well as the topics you’ll discuss. Encourage people to participate. In this way, you position yourself as a respected and trusted authority in your industry.
6. Tap Into the Power of Instagram
This social network sometimes fall through the cracks of B2B marketing, but is still a great way to enhance your startup PR strategy with stunning visuals. But current trends in public relations point to the emergence of such tools as Instagram Stories as a viable strategy for startups.
Create a helpful and vibrant infographic that will reach a wider audience. Design visually appealing and thought-provoking graphics that speak to your audience. Include relevant and popular hashtags -- or create your own, company-specific hashtag to track views and shares.
7. Publish on Free Content Sites
Your content is a pivotal key to growing your credibility as an industry thought leader. And the fact that many sites will allow you to publish for free just sweetens the deal. These sites include LinkedIn Publishing and Medium, among others. Be sure to include a link to your website on your post so you can nurture any interest.
Once your content is on these sites, maximize your traffic by promoting them on your social media networks.
8. Offer a Free Resource
Who doesn't love free stuff? It can put your startup on the map by offering a small ebook, checklist, or infographic that helps your audience while showcasing your expertise.
Is there a particular customer pain point that you can address? For example, if you're a small accounting firm, you might offer a tax-prep checklist that will get your audience ready for tax season.
9. Use Services Like MuckRack to Find Journalists
Would you like to reach out to bloggers and journalists to get some media coverage, but don’t know where to begin? Services like MuckRack take the guesswork out of contacting the media. This resource lets you search keywords, company names, beats, and media types to find the right fit for your next pitch.
10. Speak at Industry Events
Don’t just go to industry events or read about them after the fact -- get off the sidelines and get in the game. Become a speaker.
Begin with smaller roles. If possible, bring a client or customer with you to co-present -- this adds a compelling human element, and bolsters your story. It also boosts your changes of being chosen to speak.
11. Answer Questions On Quora
What questions are people asking in your industry? Find and answer these on Quora. This puts your content and your expertise in the spotlight. Create a profile that includes your business name and Twitter handle. When appropriate, include a link to your business's website in your post. As your credibility grows, people will be more likely to visit your site directly when they have questions or problems.
12. Create an Online Newsroom
Gather all of your PR information is one place, right on your website: your online newsroom. This includes a brief explanation of your brand, your social media profiles, past press mentions, visuals, a company backgrounder, media contacts and, press releases.
It creates an all-in-one place where journalists and others can access more information on your brand, and learn how to connect with you.
13. Use BuzzSumo
Buzzsumo and similar tools give you a window into your audience and answers the age-old question: What resonates? Discover what kinds of content people are clicking on, and how to improve your content to better reach your audience.
14. Create Buzz with Press Release Distribution Services
Not sure how to distribute your press release? PRWeb will do it for you smartly and economically. Your job is to craft a newsworthy press release about your small business -- a product launch, a promotional event, fundraising -- and this service will distribute it to news sites and search engines.
15. Reach Out to Niche Publications and Blogs
What niche publications does your audience read? Find out and target these publications and blogs in your industry. Because they’re usually smaller and more niche-specific, they get pitched to less often. They will likely be more open to using you for guest posts, or as a source for future articles. You can then gradually work your way up the media outlet hierarchy.
16. Track Media Placements with Google Alerts
You don't have to break the bank to keep track of media placements. Set up as many Google Alerts as you like -- for free. For example, you could have one for your business name, one for your CEO's name, and even more for industry terms that you want to monitor along with competitor brands.
Once you have these Google Alerts set up, it makes amplifying these PR opportunities much easier. Once you receive an alert that you've been mentioned, promote that mention on social media, your blog, your website, in your email signature line, and even in your press kit, depending on the circumstances.
17. Put a Face to Your Company
In today's crowded market, small businesses and startups are a dime a dozen. This has created the sense that companies are just faceless personality-deficient entities that are a ncessary evil.
Combat this by putting a face to your company. Have your CEO step forward and show that your company is more than just a business. Showcase personality and qualities that will draw people to your brand and create a sense of loyalty. Doing this will differentiate you from other brands in your industry.
18. "Newsjack" a Story
Get in where there is already a buzz. Discover how to participate in a major story that is happening in the news. One of our clients was able to get top placement by commenting on the presidential primary candidates from a sales perspective. Should out to the unbeatable David Meerman Scott for creating and popularizing this.
19. Feature Your Customers On Social Media
Offer special awards for your key customers and feature these customers on your website and social media channels. Tag them in posts so their followers will get into the act and have a better chance of remembering your business.
20. Go for Local Media Outlets
Many startups and small businesses make the mistake of shooting for national placements right out the gate. What they don't realize is how effective local placements can be for public relations for startups.
Create long-lasting relationships with local media contacts in your startup's local area. Not only will it give results now, but it may pave the way for more media attention down the road.
Don't think you have to try all of these strategies at once. Wade in slowly and test everything you do. Continue to stay on top of your small business PR by keeping track of public relations trends so you can continue to thrive.
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