How to Drum Up Publicity for Your Business

Get free PR for your small business with these tips

Photo by Marques Jackson/Filles Garcons Photography.

If you’re like most small business owners, you probably get sucked into working IN the business more than ON it. So while you man the register, fill in for a sick employee, or lead an event, your business development suffers. Who has time — or a budget — for PR when there are daily fires to put out? The good news is you can still get publicity for your business with little to no budget.

As a former journalist and current event planner for my own business, I can offer some tips to get your business in the press. Here are 8 ways to get free PR for your small business:

  1. Write a press release. Whether you are having an event, a launch, or an opening, it’s important to broadcast it. Make sure you include all the basic information — who, what, when, where — clearly and high up in the press release. Check out free press release templates here for more details on what to include.
  2. Search for articles on topics related to yours. Google your business niche and find pieces written on similar businesses, events or ideas. Contact the author (usually there is a contact link or Twitter name listed for the author or you can Google their name), and say you enjoyed the article so much and have an interesting angle to add if they’d like more information. As with most people, flattery will get you everywhere with writers, and you are saving them research time by offering a story in their niche.
  3. Cross promote. Find complementary businesses and cross promote for each other. If you own a hat shop, work with the shoe store across the street (or across the web), to promote each other’s items or sales as they complement your own. You can agree to each put ads in the others’ newsletters or shops, for instance.
  4. Spread social love. Amp up your social media to increase your reach. Social media is free publicity and a great way to attract new customers. Look up people by geo tagging your business location and start commenting on their posts and following them. Also be responsive to customers and followers who tag your business to show your appreciation. A comment and emoji go a long way and help build up your network for when you want to broadcast your business news.
Make everything easy and accessible for your press contacts.

5. Contact local publications. If you have a local event or launch, send your press release to neighborhood publications. Link to 1 or 2 high resolution photos the press can use as well. For event publicity, submit your business event to local calendars. Make sure with your press interactions that you are following their format guidelines. Journalists are busy and we don’t have time to correct and reformat someone’s work, especially when hundreds or thousands of submissions are coming in. So keep yourself in the priority pile by making everything easily accessible and in the required format.

6. Mine your contacts. Chances are you already know some people who work in the media industry, and reaching them can be as simple as sending them a brief note to remind them of your news or event. Everyone is busy so even if you verbally tell someone about your business, make sure you follow up in written form to increase your chances of publication.

7. Network. This longtime business staple has remained important over centuries for a simple reason: it works. Online networking is great, but make sure you also set aside a certian amount of time per week for in-person networking. Whether it’s attending one networking event a week or more informal such as telling 5 new people about your business each week, you’ll see results. There is nothing like face to face contact from an enthusiastic brand ambassador like yourself to spread the word about your business.

8. Build social buzz. Enlist the help of your own team to spread the word about your business. Appoint brand ambassadors and offer them special perks in exchange for spreading the word about your business on their vast social networks. Also, encourage your clients to promote you by offering incentives such as giveaways and discounts for following your business on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. You can offer flash sales on Instagram stories, give a Yelp check-in discount, and more. Your creativity is the only limit for this one.

How have you promoted your small business on a budget? What PR strategies have landed you in the spotlight? Comment with your tips and feedback below.

Marnie Kunz is the founder of Runstreet Art Runs, a journalist, Instagram influencer, and marketing professional. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, where you can often find her Tweeting and running.