A new business needs to get the word out that they not only exist, but offer services and products consumers need. Even established businesses need to continually market and attract new customers and clients. Some companies have marketing departments or outsource to marketing companies to accomplish this. But for businesses that may not have a large marketing budget, here are 10 do-it-yourself options that can drive your business to new heights.
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.
After signing up for an account, you can input planned events, import your current calendar or upload events in bulk. Take advantage of time-saving features like recurring schedules, venue search 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.
Cost: Starts at $19 a month for a 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.
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.
Cost: Free with paid plans at $19, $49 and $149 a month for advanced and premium features.
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.
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. 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. [See Related Story: How to Write a Great Press Release]
Cost: Starts at $99 per press release
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. Once you have a MyBlogGuest account, you can 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: Free to sign up and browse forum. 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. Simply 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.
7. Google Alerts
You don't need fancy software to track your business's media placements and mentions — 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.
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. These Google Alerts are then sent directly to your inbox.
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. 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
9. Online PR Media
Online PR Media combines the best of traditional media practices with social media and multi-media to get the most out of your search engine optimization efforts. It has a quick and easy submission process, tips for writing effective press releases and has editors that review and approve every submission before it goes live. Simply sign up for an account and the system walks you through writing the press release. The site has a page for guidelines that help ensure you develop and submit a quality press release with a high chance of approval.
Cost: Free for online press release; $22 for social media press release. Extra for add-on services.
This is one of the few sites that give you social media features before you sign up for a paid plan. PRLog lets you do a lot of things, like social sharing, automatic Twitter and Facebook posting, or embed widgets and code. They also provide analytics for free, which is nearly unheard of, and allow you to see what search phrases are related to your release so you can better target future releases. To get started, just create an account and post your first press release. The system is intuitively navigable, once you get used to the design, and offers a variety of features to customize it.
Additional reporting by Sara Angeles.