As an entrepreneur, you know the value of publicity. Getting your brand mentioned in front of a large audience or increasing the visibility of good reviews can bring new people to your company, raise the loyalty of your existing customers and set the stage for long-term growth.
The trouble is, publicity can be expensive. If you’re a new business owner, you typically don’t want to spend thousands to tens of thousands of dollars getting your brand mentioned by high-profile publications or influencers. Fortunately, there are convenient ways you can get publicity for free.
First, let me clarify what I mean when I say “free” publicity. As you’re undoubtedly aware, nothing is ever truly free. In most cases, there will be a cost to getting this publicity, but it’s not going to be monetary. Instead, you’ll have to invest a bit of time and effort to get these forms of publicity for your business, either by creating something, building relationships with other people or even getting your employees to chase after opportunities. That said, these are still efficient methods for getting more eyes on your business.
One of my favorite methods of generating publicity is through blogging and content marketing. The idea is simple enough. Create meaningful, original content that people want to see, spend some time promoting it and attract more people to your website. If your content is good enough, it might circulate and grow popular all on its own. The trick here is that because the internet is saturated with content, it’s going to take something special to really stand out. Try taking on a unique angle that nobody’s taken before or present new original research.
You can also get more attention for your brand by attending or getting involved in local events. Pay attention to upcoming festivals, art shows and other popular events that unfold in and around your city. Can your business set up a booth? Or can you donate something to help with the event? Even merely attending the event and talking to people could be beneficial for your brand.
This one admittedly costs a bit of money, but it doesn’t have to be much (if anything at all). Find a local nonprofit organization or charity you admire and do something for them; it could be a donation of your products and services or merely a donation of time. Chances are, they’ll express their gratitude publicly, naming your business and potentially listing it on their website’s donor page. Plus, you’ll be doing something good for the community.
Spend some time building relationships with journalists — especially local ones. If you end up on good terms, they’ll come to you when they need a quote or help with a story related to your brand. Famously, HARO (short for “help a reporter out”) can connect you with a wide range of different journalists. But you can also simply reach out to some of the reporters for your local newspaper.
Consider reaching out to the editors of a publication you love to read. Pitch a couple of article ideas and be willing to write for them. When you submit your drafts, be accommodating and always keep their target audience in mind. If you’re patient and persistent, you can probably earn lots of free backlinks this way. In fact, once you build more trust and have a stronger reputation as an author, this can be a gateway to relationships with other editors and other publications.
Most people already know that social media is a powerful way to get some free exposure from your brand. It’s not as easy to do this cheaply as it used to be; organic reach is nowhere near as powerful as paid reach on these platforms. But if you’re creating valuable posts for a specific target audience, you’re nurturing your brand regularly and you’re not contending with major competition, this can still be a viable channel for you.
Finally, be prepared to deliver some exceptional customer experiences. I’m not talking about providing decent service or simply fulfilling your promises — you really need to go above and beyond here. As it turns out, when people are pleasantly surprised, they’re much more likely to remember an event — and share it with other people. If you’re successful on this front, you could potentially reach hundreds, or even thousands of people through word of mouth.
Publicity doesn’t have to be expensive. It doesn’t even have to be hard. If you take control of your brand’s image and you’re willing to work with other people, you can take advantage of a wide variety of channels and outlets to support your company.
Originally appeared in Entrepreneur