Bill Gates is believed to have said, “If I was down to my last dollar, I’d spend it on public relations.” It’s no secret that public relations is one of the most effective tools in building awareness for your company, regardless of its size or service and product offering. However, given its effectiveness, many companies fail to utilize the benefits of PR because of lack of resources or lack of budget. You should know that not all PR efforts have to be on the same budget as Apple to be successful. In fact, there are actually free, yes FREE, tools out there to help you manage a very effective PR strategy.
So let Bill Gates spend a dollar on PR while you utilize these free public relations services:
HARO (Help a Reporter Out)
One of the best ways to give yourself and your company instant credibility is to demonstrate your expertise in a particular subject. HARO is an email-based service that connects sources—which could include you and your business—with nearly 30,000 members of the media. Once you register as a source, you can choose to receive emails from HARO (sent out three times a day) with an extensive list of reporters looking for sources for a wide variety of stories. While you may feel your company’s only expertise is in topics like home automation or loudspeakers, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to see the range of topics (e.g. customer service, business management, etc.) in which you could easily provide a reporter with a quote or advice.
As we all know, the days of sending your company press release out to a list of every media member you can find an email address for are well behind us. Just like you, many members of the press have their own preferred way of receiving information, whether it be through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, search engines, or in some cases, still via email. PitchEngine is a publishing service that allows you to create a “social media release” that can be easily shared through virtually any network or platform. PitchEngine makes it easy for you to set up a press release to include your press release, images, video and SEO-content galore.
Cost: User account and press release posting for 30 days is free.
From Yelp!, to Facebook, to Twitter, to message boards, chances are if your company is even mildly successful, people are talking online about your brand. To help stay on top of what your customers—current and future—are saying about your company, sign up for Google Alerts. Set up alerts featuring your company name, your name, your company’s products or services and even your competition to be delivered to your inbox. By finding customer raves and rants regarding your company as it happens, you’ll be able to snap into action quicker should you need to send the nice “Thank You” note or have a customer service representative follow up.
Scott Moody is the Director of Public Relations at Marketing Matters (http://www.marketingmatters.net), a communications and design firm specializing in technology, consumer and custom electronics, audio-video, and related industries.