We have witnessed a dramatic evolution in media in the past few years – the media elite matter less every day, everyone is the media, and everyone matters. Reaching the big media gatekeepers of yesterday is no longer the challenge. Now the challenge is effectively reaching the audience that will be interested in hearing your story and engaging with you.
Fortunately this new media environment has had great benefits for small business PR, giving small business owners more power to disseminate their message and reach their target audiences. Here we offer some of our best, cost-effective PR tips for small business owners and entrepreneurs.

Create a Press Release

There are several cheap and free options these days for issuing a press release. Platforms such as PR Web offer business owners access to a large network of media outlets and bloggers on the cheap, while giving them the ability to target specific and relevant audiences. You may also want to consider submitting your press release to the editors of specific news outlets you are trying to reach. When issuing a press release, content is king, and timing is a close second. Use your press release to publicize something specific and interesting about your business; in other words, tell a story. Don’t think for a second that people are going to pay attention to a standard press release about your products or services unless there is something innovative, new, or unique about them. For more on this, see our post on how to write a good press release.

Leverage Those Social Media Relationships

You have a Twitter and Facebook account for a reason, and hopefully that reason is building relationships with customers and fellow entrepreneurs. If you have a message, don’t just tweet it and hope that it goes viral. Actively promote your message by leveraging those relationships you’ve built; in other words, ask your friends and followers to spread the message to their network (personal messages work best). Don’t abuse the privilege – be choosy about the promotion requests you make, and make sure to return the favor. For those you’re less familiar with, initiate conversations around the message you’re trying to promote.

Blogging and Guest Blogging

Create your own publicity by blogging or guest blogging. Let’s be clear, blogging and guest blogging aren’t free because it takes time and attention away from other aspects of your business, and it takes a significant time investment before you start to see a return (quality and consistency are key!). With that said, a successful blog with a quality following can do wonders for promoting your business’s products or services. Remember that quality audiences and/or quality linkage require quality posts. Don’t try to sell your services or products in your blog; instead talk about how you solve problems for clients or share relevant/useful news about your
industry. If you don’t want to spend the time building your own blog, seek out guest blogging opportunities at blogs that have a relevant audience.

Sponsor An Industry Event

Consider sponsoring an industry event. This is a great way to publicize your business to your target market. Find events that involve your target market, then contact the event organizer and offer to donate your products or services. Make sure to be specific about the amount of products or services you’re willing to donate, and don’t forget to ask that your logo be featured on the event website and in promotion materials. Events which have raffles or contest winners are best, as they limit the amount of product/services you have to give away.

Focus on Longtail Media

These days news comes from all manner of media outlets, from Twitter feeds to popular blogs. In an era where news travels quickly and virally, and online publishers can be reached through their blogs or email – small business owners can reach out to these media outlets like never before. And just like traditional media outlets, online publishers and bloggers are always looking for stories that are relevant to their audiences. These longtail media, as we call them, may have smaller circulations, but they are easier to get placed in and often have a much more targeted reach than the bigger media outlets. After all, what makes more sense for your Chicago hotdog business? A mention on the most popular ‘Chicago hot dog lovers’ blog – with a targeted, local reach and loyal following? Or a mention buried in a New York Times article on the hot dog industry? Plus, because longtail media mentions are easier to get, they offer links and SEO benefits over time.
Finally, a shameless plug: Don’t have time to monitor and pitch the longtail media? That’s what we do – for cheap! For cheap PR, check out our website, or follow us on Twitter @BitesizePR for entrepreneur news and small business PR tips!