Free PR resources for your small business

As a small business owner myself, I understand the need to do more with less. A lot more, for a lot less.

But if your dreams are as big as your heart, and you have a never-say-die attitude, then you can promote your business to the media and grow its reach and revenue over time.

Here is a list of free resources that small business owners like you and me can take advantage of when trying to get media coverage for our latest accomplishments:

  1. Help a Reporter Out: originally started by Peter Shankman to connect reporters with expert sources, now owned by Vocus, Help a Reporter Out, also known as HARO, continues to offer small businesses a chance to get an interview with a Tier 1 media outlet like CNNMoney, Forbes.com and Entrepreneur. Click here to sign up for the service, which will send you three daily emails filled with lots and lots of source requests. CAVEAT: the service can be a little overwhelming to follow, so be sure you’re ready to spend a little time each day combing the quote leads, some of which are from unknown blogs, “authors,” and the dreaded “anonymous.”
  2. USNPL: this handy website is a massive list of newspapers complete with links to the newspaper website and contact information. For example, say you want to know the name of the newspaper for Arab, Alabama. Click here and you’ll get access to information like the editor name, phone number, address, and more.
  3. The Business Journals: Biz Journals owns business journals in over 40 cities across America from Albany all the way to Albuquerque. Each city journal is managed locally and does a great job of covering local business. Each journal accepts story pitches directly from small businesses, and often they even hold breakfasts and special events so you can meet their reporters face-to-face. To find the Business Journal near you, click here.
  4. Twitter: don’t overlook Twitter as a way to find, follow and engage reporters that write about what you do. One pharmacy owner in Austin, Texas tweeted a local TV news reporter about one of its natural allergy products as a way to help cedar pollen sufferers. The next day the pharmacy was featured in the news along with the product he pitched.
  5. Online publications: you can also read virtually any media outlet online today for free, or very nearly free. Get to know which media outlets cover your community (or industry) the most to discover which reporters and bloggers to whom you should direct a pitch. Be sure to read what they write to make sure you are a good fit for their “news beat” (e.g., restaurant critic as opposed to a healthcare reporter) or all your work will amount to nothing.
  6. Coffee or lunch: you can always ask a reporter out for coffee or lunch. It’s a low-cost and effective way to get plugged directly into a media outlet. Plan out several story pitches about your business to see which one sticks the most. And don’t get your feelings hurt if the reporter says the pitches aren’t ready for prime-time just yet. PR is about building trust and long-lasting relationships, not instant gratification.
  7. Online press release distribution: many services like PRWeb and PRLeap will distribute your press release online for a fee. But one allows you to post a press release for free. It’s called PRLOG and is found here. Essentially, an online press release distribution outlet like PRLOG is primarily for your SEO (search engine optimization) strategy, which will help improve your Internet search engine rankings. In other words, reporters are not scouring these websites for breaking news. It’s up to you to contact them directly to pitch your story. Sorry. But at least it’s free!
  8. Networking: don’t overlook the opportunity to run into a reporter at an event like a trade show or local economic forum. You can also ask your friends and business associates if they know any reporters covering your industry or community; one of them could live next to the 6 o’clock news anchor for the CBS affiliate in your city.

Last but not least, the PR over Coffee blog is a free resource that helps you figure out new ways to get noticed. Keep reading and I promise you will come away with some sure-fire ways to get your business the media attention is truly deserves.

About Dave Manzer: Dave Manzer founded his own tech PR agency in Austin in 2009. Dave Manzer PR and Marketing helps startups and emerging growth companies become recognizable brands through innovative, value-driven PR campaigns. He also launched PR over Coffee to provide small business PR advice so that entrepreneurs and startups could practice “DIY” PR and promote themselves to a much wider audience. For more information about Dave or PR over Coffee, email info(@)PRoverCoffee.com.

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