Public relations is key to any successful business venture. For budget-conscious small businesses, however, hiring a PR firm is out of the question. What's a resource-strapped business owner to do? Take the do-it-yourself route, of course. But DIY doesn't always mean effective. To help you get the most of your self-launched PR campaigns, here are eight DIY PR resources you shouldn't miss.
You don't need a full-fledged marketing team to launch a successful PR event. Check out Localist, an interactive online calendaring platform that aims to help small businesses with limited marketing resources manage promotional events.
How it works: After signing up for an account, start by inputting planned events, importing your current calendar or uploading events in bulk. Take advantage of time-saving features like recurring schedules, venue matching (enter the venue name and Localist will automatically populate its address and other information) and automatic event merging to avoid duplicates. To make your event even more successful, Localist also allows you to create an online community where attendees and target audiences can check-in to events, add comments, write reviews and upload photos. The platform is also Google Analytics-friendly, allowing you track conversations about your event, how many shares and follows events have and other valuable insights. [The Future of PR: Focus, Fit and Friendship]
Cost: Localist starts at $19 a month. This starter plan includes unlimited events, a custom domain, responsive design for enhanced vmobile access and more.
2. Help a reporter out (HARO)
Share your expertise and get free publicity. Help A Reporter Out, commonly referred to as HARO by media folks, gives you direct access to reporters, bloggers and journalists from all types of publications and media properties who are looking for sources with your expertise.
How it works: Sign up as a source and HARO will send queries from journalists to your inbox in batches throughout the day. If any of the queries is a good fit for your expertise and business, pitch your response and qualifications directly to the journalist by email for a possible interview or direct quote.
Find the right journalist and blogger to tell your story or become a source. MuckRack helps businesses search their database of more than 20,000 journalists and media contacts. Features include inbox alerts, direct email pitches to journalists, social sharing data and media list creation and organization.
How it works: Sign up as a PR pro or marketer by clicking on the "Find Journalists" button, then choose a subscription plan. Start searching for journalists by name, keywords and phrases, beats, outlets, Twitter accounts, hashtags, media properties and other categories.
Cost: Starts at $179 a month.
Maximize your reach and attract new business online. PRWeb publishes press releases across the Web on search engines, blogs, major news sites and websites — no tech or PR skills necessary.
How it works: Write an effective and engaging press release for your business, announcement or event (PRWeb offers a library of resources to help you do this, including free tutorials and press release examples). Add video, keywords, extra distribution channels and other optional features. Plug your press release into PRWeb's template and hit 'Submit.' PRWeb's editors will then check your release and you're good to go.
Cost: Starts at $99 per press release.
5. Handle Your Own PR
Can't afford a PR agency? Handle Your Own PR (HYOPR) is a DIY PR service that gives you all the tools you need to create media lists and get free publicity for your small business. HYOPR's comprehensive PR library includes tips, tools and other resources to help you successfully launch your own PR campaigns.
How it works: Start with the "How To Do It" tab. There you'll learn everything from getting started with PR to media basics (releases, targeting, lists and scheduling) and the do's and don'ts of connecting and following up with media contacts.
Cost: HYOPR is free to use. Users can also purchase media lists starting at $80, depending on the niche.
[For a side-by-side comparison of the best online public relations services, visit our sister site Top Ten Reviews.]
Reach highly targeted audiences by writing quality guest posts on major blogs. MyBlogGuest connects bloggers with brands and content creators to share their expertise, build links and cross-promote their offerings.
How it works: Sign up for a MyBlogGuest account. Search for guest blogging opportunities or post an ad in the forums for free. You can also post content directly in the Articles Gallery for blog owners to find (requires a GO PRO account).
Cost: Sign up and browse the forums for free. Full-featured accounts start at $50 per month.
Find leads and discover your biggest social media influencers. HootSuite is a social media management tool that lets you manage multiple social media accounts in a single dashboard to help automate social media marketing, while increasing engagement. HootSuite can also help you monitor top content, likes and shares, traffic sources and other metrics with reporting modules like Facebook Insight and Google Analytics.
How it works: Sign in with Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or your email address, then set up "streams" for each social media account.
Cost: Free for up to three social media profiles.
8. Google Alerts
A PR rep's job isn't just to get publicity for clients, but also to track where they are being placed and mentioned. But you don't need fancy software to do the same for your business — Google Alerts lets you monitor your presence online and find out where you appear on the Web, what people are saying about you and how your PR campaigns compare to that of your competitors.
How it works: Google Alerts are sent directly to your inbox. Create an alert by entering a search query — such as the name of your business, competitors, industry and other related keywords — and setting up the frequency and types of alerts you wish to receive.
LinkedIn is a great place to connect with colleagues and even find a job. It's also an excellent resource for finding journalists, budget-friendly PR reps and other professionals who can help you get your PR campaigns off the ground.
How it works: Use LinkedIn's search function and filters to find the journalists, publications and PR professionals. For better search results and to contact non-connections, purchase a Premium account.
Cost: Free, with Premium plans starting at $29.99 a month.