7 Free and Easy Small Business PR Tactics Allie Wolff As a small business, you may not think you’re in the business of (or in need of) public relations, but you are. Public relations is crucial to the success of every business, big or small. The difference is that a small, budget-conscious business doesn’t have the luxury of hiring a high-priced PR firm, so you have to take a more DIY approach to mastering your public relations. These days there are lots of ways for small businesses to manage their own PR. For starters, social media–that great equalizer–has made it easier for small businesses to get the attention of editors and reporters. And most journalists are happier making contact directly with a potential source, rather than having to go through an agency or publicist first. Another plus? The expanding and evolving definition of media. No longer is media limited to traditional news outlets. Now there are a plethora of influential bloggers, YouTube influencers, online publications and podcasts that can be harnessed to help publicize your business. While small businesses don’t really need a pricey PR firm to promote themselves, they do need a solid and professional media outreach strategy. Here are seven inexpensive, creative and effective strategies for putting together a small business PR plan. 1. Craft a compelling story (or two). The surest way to get a reporter/blogger/editor to write about you and your business is to get their attention. And the way you do that is with good, old-fashioned storytelling. You won’t get coverage for just being a successful small business, or a new one, or a growing one. Focus instead on what is unique about the business, whether that’s the product or service you offer, the culture you’ve built, the problem you solve, the way you hire, how you give back. Topics like that offer an enterprising reporter the opportunity to report on something truly new or of human interest. Does your small business do something unique that can be tied to a holiday or event? Let’s say your business makes a special effort to hire veterans? That’s a great story to pitch before Veteran’s Day or Memorial Day. Or what if your company takes steps to minimize your Carbon footprint? That’s something to pitch before Earth Day. 2. Promote your expertise (and that of others in your business). One way to get mentioned in the press is to promote yourself as an expert in your industry, niche, sector, etc. For instance, if you own a small accounting firm, create a list of tips for business owners as they head into tax season. Send that out to finance and money reporters at newspapers, magazines, business news wires and other publications, so that when they are doing stories around tax time, they may quote you as an expert in one of their own “tax tips” stories. By crafting potential story ideas for the media, you aren’t just promoting yourself you’re also pitching a timely, useful story idea to make things easier on their end. 3. Use services like HARO (Help a Reporter) and PRWeb. HARO is a free service that allows journalists and bloggers to connect with you as an expert. Once you sign up as a source, HARO sends queries from journalists—looking for sources for stories—throughout the day. If any of the queries match your expertise, you can respond directly to the journalist and, possibly, be interviewed for the story. It’s also smart, if your budget allows, to sign up for a newswire service. These are services like PRWeb and PR Newswire, that allow you to send out press releases across the web, to thousands of news and industry publishers. However, refer back to tip #1 – make sure you craft a compelling story if you want the attention of journalists and publications. 4. Sponsor and participate in charitable and community events. As a small business, you can get your name out into the community and into people’s minds, by supporting local nonprofits, either by helping to sponsor an event, operating a booth at local festivals and fairs, or forming a team to participate in a fundraiser. Not only is it good business karma, you can spread the word about the event in a way that benefits the charity or community as well as your business and its reputation. 5. Reach out to influencers in your industry. Public relations isn’t just about media coverage, ultimately it’s about building relationships. Do your research and identify bloggers, YouTubers, media outlets and reporters that cover your industry, niche or market and reach out to them. Keep up regular communication with these influencers so that you’re top-of-mind when they are looking for businesses to talk or write about. 6. Create a media kit and store it in the cloud. Are you asking yourself right now, “What is a media kit?” It’s just a package of information about your business, created for the press. It provides reporters and editors with all the data and images they need to write about your business. (Here’s a guide to what should be included in a small business media kit from StartupNation.) Almost all bigger businesses have them, and you will seem polished and professional if you do too. Use a cloud storage service like Dropbox to store PDF versions of your kit, as well as several high-resolution images. Every time you pitch a story about your company—or yourself as an expert—include a link to the media kit. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy. A quick one-pager (like the sample below) will give editors all the information they need to know at a glance. Image Source: www.metropolitanorganizing.com 7. Use Google Alerts. It can be difficult to know if and how your small business PR efforts are paying off, but one way to track it is using Google Alerts . It’s simple to use—create an alert on Google by entering a “search query’—things like the name of your business, the name of competitors, your industry and any other relevant keywords. Anytime those terms appear on the web Google sends an alert about it to your email. It’s a good way to monitor your business’ presence on the web, see what competitors are doing and what people are saying about your business and about your competitors’ businesses.