5 tips to do PR on a tight budget

Startups and small businesses don’t generally have an extended budget for their communication. That’s why they need to focus on affordable solutions to promote their businesses. Public relations, if managed in-house, can be (and should be) one of them. It helps increase your brand profile and notoriety, it can boost your SEO ranking, it drives traffic on your website… PR is absolutely essential. Here are my tips to share on how to do PR on a tight budget.

1- Build a PR strategy yourself

PR is often misunderstood and people think it requires specific skills. In reality, doing PR yourself is totally doable and manageable.

Do you know your business well? Probably better that someone not working for it like a PR agent. Are you able to pitch to someone about it? I am sure you’re already pitching anyone asking about it. So congrats, you’re qualified.

PR is actually not really different from any other marketing medium. You need to understand your audience. Who are they? What do they like to do? To read? What are their challenges?

This will allow you to define:

  • The key messages you want to convey: Think about what problem your product or service solves and what makes it different from your competitors.
  • The intermediaries you will need to target to reach your audience: Whether they are journalists, bloggers, podcasters, vloggers, influencers. This will depend on your business and your industry sector.
  • The tools you’re going to use to reach these targets: Press releases, social media, emails. Try to figure out the best way for each.

Once you’ve got this information you can now build your plan. In 2017, there are are so many ways to explore and so many digital PR trends. Be creative!

2- Use what you’re already using

The good thing about PR is it doesn’t require a lot of investment. You can use what you’re already using, including social media for example. Social media is a great way to connect with bloggers, influencers and even journalists.

Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook are some of the best to engage with people you think could help you promote your business. Follow them and then engage with them by liking, sharing or commenting on their posts. You can also pitch them directly.

Email is another good way of pitching to a journalist or blogger. Probably even the best for some of them. All you need is an email address so try to make your own list of people to contact.

3. Build relationships

Building relationships is the basis of PR and that’s certainly the best way to get your brand talked about. To develop your business you’re probably looking at partners for instance. They can be a real asset for your PR.

Think about the different companies and organisations you’re working with, have you considered asking them to promote your business? Have you asked them to introduce you to other businesses/people they’re working with that would be of interest for you or that would simply be willing to promote your business through social media or blogs?

Extending your network is key to your PR success and more generally to your business growth. Make a list of the partners and organisations you’re working with and try to put a plan together.

4. Create a PR calendar

One thing to note is that PR is not always about your business. Sometimes, talking about what your company is doing is not the way to go to get coverage. PR is about connecting what’s being talked about in your industry. By simply commenting on the news and responding to media requests you can get the attention. (not to mention backlinks and brand mentions). It helps to build a positive brand profile and it doesn’t take time.

However, you need to be organised and ready to react because timing is essential. Nobody will be interested in what you have to say about the news if it happened 2 months before. For this reason, I would recommend you prepare a PR calendar with all the key dates related to your business. You can then add your own business events to it, your next product launch for instance.

5. Use online PR tools

Of course, developing and executing a PR strategy can be time-consuming. Engaging with the right people on social media, building lists of journalists, contacting people and developing relationships, monitoring the media… That’s a lot of work.

Luckily there are some great affordable tools out there to help you with that. With a little bit of organisation and planning, you should quickly stand on your own two feet.

Find out my list of 10 affordable PR tools for small businesses, helping with the planning, execution and monitoring or your PR efforts.

With a little bit of creativity and commitment, anyone should be able to develop a PR plan and to execute it on a tight budget.