When the going gets tough, public relations is one of the first budget items entrepreneurs cut. Most PR professionals will tell you that’s a bad idea. They will tell you that a downturn is exactly the wrong time to stop telling your story.
While there is truth to that, cutting your PR budget is always preferable to laying someone off. Sometimes you just don’t have a choice, but here’s the good news: the foundations of effective public relations for entrepreneurs are free.
Here are a few things you can do to help get your story heard when there is nothing left in the budget to pay for an expensive agency.
Discover (or re-discover) your own story.
It costs nothing to dig deep and discover (or re-discover) why your work and your business really matter to you. PR isn’t just getting an article in a magazine or landing an interview on an influential podcast. If you’re an entrepreneur, PR is you. All the time. You don’t need to pay an agency thousands of dollars to help you make your business sound interesting or important. If you can’t make it sound interesting and important, no one else will.
And don’t oversell. Be authentic. Be real.
Don’t be the scheduling app that saves the world. Be the scheduling app that helps people spend more time with the people they love. If you really do that, we will all understand that you saved the world. You won’t need to tell us. The story will find you.
Update and polish your company and your personal LinkedIn profile.
Review your personal profile and company page. On your profile, stop telling people what you do. Instead, focus on your achievements–and include any milestones that others (i.e. journalists or industry influencers) might find interesting.
On your company page, use language and share content that helps people understand why your company matters. Connect your company to a higher–but specific–purpose. Achievements can be newsworthy, especially within industry-specific media. Sharing those achievements on LinkedIn is free.
Develop genuine relationships with members of your local media.
PR agencies tend to emphasize one asset above all others: relationships. The better their relationships are with members of the media, the more likely they are to get you in the news. Access to journalists doesn’t come cheap, in part because those relationships took a long time to build. Those relationships are built on a foundation of time and trust. Journalists depend on them.
You can also invest in building relationships based on time and trust.
If you live in a city large enough to have a local business reporter, invite them to lunch or coffee–especially when you don’t have a specific story to pitch. Engage with their content on social media. Share their stories. Send them a sincere compliment after they write or produce something you found valuable. Treat reporters like human beings–rather than an ATM that takes in badgering emails and spits out 600 words and a link–and you can form relationships that can lead to coverage.
And if it doesn’t lead to an article, you still made a new friend.
Share content on platforms you control.
Dealing with the media can frustrate entrepreneurs. Even Steve Jobs’ famed “reality distortion field” couldn’t stop writers from publishing unflattering articles–or ignoring him during his years in the metaphorical wilderness. Control what you can control.
Make sure you are posting thoughtful, authentic content on relevant platforms that help you reach your target audience. If that’s TikTok, be a consistent presence on TikTok. If that’s LinkedIn, be a consistent presence on LinkedIn. And don’t neglect your website and blog.
Getting featured on major media platforms usually happens through a combination of luck, timing, and money. Entrepreneurs are often short on luck, time, and money. The one thing entrepreneurs usually aren’t short on? Creativity. It comes with the job.
When you come up with something truly creative–whether it’s a new product, a new service, or a different way of thinking about an important topic–the media will seek you out. For example, treating your employees so well that they tell everyone they know about the amazing company they work for is both the right thing to do and a great way to get your story told.
Creativity and common decency are always free.
They are also the best PR strategy, even when you can afford a more expensive one.
The post No money for a big agency? Try these five PR tips that won’t cost you a thing. appeared first on Inc..