They’re talking about you! Seven ways to get free publicity for your business

Want to get people talking about you? Read seven ways you can use PR to get free publicity for your business.

Every business needs exposure; for people to know about it, trust it, tell their friends about it, and buy from it. But not many small business owners know how to get that publicity.

At first glance, it may seem too expensive to invest in – a luxury item only big businesses with big budgets can afford – or too complicated to waste your time on. But while media coverage can be hard-earned and time consuming, the results are nearly always worth it.

Why publicity is important

PR will never be the cornerstone of your company. As a business owner, you know that your first priority is your customers’ satisfaction and making sure that your products and services are the best they can be.

However, if you have any interest in attracting new customers and growing your business, then you will need quality media coverage.

You don’t need to land a front-page placement every week, but you will see the positive effects of a simple little-and-often approach over time. From simply being visible to potential new customers, to becoming a topic of conversation within your industry and climbing the Google search ranks, quality PR is definitely not to scoffed at.

Seven ways to get free publicity for your business

Business owners sometimes don’t want media coverage. They’re happy with their customer size and reputation, and that’s okay.

However, many business owners want to expand. They want to see their company’s name in the papers and talked about online, and the only thing stopping them from doing that is a little PR know how.

To help you get your business quality coverage online and in print for free, here are seven tips from branding agency Omnia.

1) Tell your story… well

Let’s start with the good stuff: what you want the media to cover. And they won’t accept any old rubbish, either. Journalists want interesting, emotional stories their readers will respond to and add value to their website or paper, so it’s time to get creative and dig deep.

Ask yourself what makes your business different. Are you a startup, or part of a long line of business owners? Do you have an interesting history, or unique work style? Have you hit any big milestones over the last few years, or experimented with your products or services?

A trick to this is testing out a headline for your story. For example, maybe you’re a stay-at-home parent with an online business. If so, you could envision your headline as something like:

[COMPANY NAME] proves a work-life balance is possible.

Or perhaps your company is coming up to its tenth year, so your headline might read:

[CITY NAME] outlasts competitors on 10th birthday in [CITY NAME].

If it’s something you can imagine yourself reading, then it’s more likely a journalist will want to write about it.

2) Be the authority on your subject

A second option is to give a journalist an article on a subject your business specialises in, and that you want to be known for. This gives a website or magazine an interesting article from an expert, and gives you quality coverage – result!

For example, if you design and sell bespoke wedding invitations, you would specialise in art and design, and all things bridal. You might then be interested in writing an article about the most common mistakes people make with their wedding stationary, or a guide on choosing your colour theme.

As a freelance marketer trying to build their brand, you may want to showcase your unparalleled talent and know-how by offering your opinions on how to build a large mailing list in six months, or the best creatives to use on social media.

3) Offer them new research or findings

Have you discovered something in your business? Maybe you surveyed every person that passed your shop, and found that only 15% had taken public transport to reach their destination. Or you did some digging and discovered your customer or employee demographic has shifted dramatically over the past 50 years.

You could also conduct research into a subject related to your business. For example, as a children’s car seat provider, could you research the most common worries of expectant mothers in your city? Or what age most women in your area are when they have their first child?

As we’ve already mentioned, journalists want something unique and if you can give them brand new research conducted by your company, that’s the perfect relationship for both parties.

4) Provide valuable content

Wow a journalist by offering them something they haven’t seen before.

For example, you may ask them if they’re interested in the bloopers from your bridal photography business (make sure you have your brides’ permission!) or a musical mash up of all the machines in your workshop. You could even send one of your products to a journalist or blogger for review, or offer them exclusive news from your company.

Basically, give them something useful or fun to work with, and they’ll be more keen to write about you.

5) Aim for quality not quantity

Now that you’ve decided what you want the press to cover, it’s time to choose where you want that to appear. It’s probably best to contact a range of different websites, blogs, newspapers and magazines to maximise your chance of getting picked up.

For example, if you sell dog collars and accessories, it makes sense to contact websites, blogs and magazines which feature news or stories about dogs and pet care.

If you have created a brand new kind of dog collar which has been revolutionary for pet owners, you may want to contact the local press as well, or business blogs which may be interested in finding out the secrets behind a successful business in the pet industry.

You don’t want to send emails to women’s fitness websites or financial papers. Your outreach should be about quality, not quantity.

Also make sure you check what content the website has previously published. If they are a pet website but only publish content about rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters, your dog collars probably won’t go down too well.

6) Be human

Here are the two big no-nos of good PR: sending one hundred ‘Dear journalist’ emails hoping that anyone will reply to you, and following up with a disinterested journalist… over and over and over.

The best way to conduct your outreach is sending personalised emails to a select number of journalists. Address them by name, comment on their website and why you like it, and show them why your business is worth writing a story about. Basically, contact them in a way that you would like to contacted.

If they don’t get back to you immediately, don’t worry. Journalists can receive hundreds if not thousands of emails every week, so give them some time to reply. After a week or so though, feel free to ping over a little “Hi, just following up on this!” email, just in case it has been genuinely missed in their inbox.

If there is still no reply after that, assume they don’t want to cover your business and move onto a different journalist who will be thrilled to receive your email.

7) Build relationships

Be a friend to journalists and bloggers. Promote the article they wrote for you on your own social channels, and send off an email to thank them for any coverage they give you. Attend local events where they might be in attendance, and express interest in their work.

Personal relationships go a long way in the media industry, and if you can prove to be interesting and easy to work with, you bolster your chances of being featured again.

Love more PR tips?

You can read more advice on getting your business (and yourself) in the press in those articles:

By Laura Fulton from Omnia.