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How to Get Free PR Without Bribery

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If you’re a small business or have a new book, side hustle, or upcoming event, it can be hard to find money in your budget for PR. People often confuse advertising, marketing, and PR. Marketing is how you “sell” your product. Advertising is how you use paid channels for marketing your product. PR is a whole other ballgame.

Public Relations is the management of how your brand appears out in the world in media, press, and social media. But it can be so costly to hire PR agencies. 

What Do PR Agencies Do?

You pay a PR agency to help get you media coverage and recognition for your  brand or business. PR reps leverage their media connections, create events, and generate buzz. They help you craft the messaging you put out there. They also help you protect your brand if you get into trouble. They help write apologies and statements to keep you from getting “canceled.” 

But there are no guarantees your investment in PR will pay off. You may be lucky and your PR agency introduces your brand to celebrities or influencers and gets you a ton of news coverage. But you could also spend a lot of money on events to drive visibility or interview with the wrong outlets and get no financial pay-off. 

Here are ways to get free PR without bribing the press…which is both unethical and illegal. 

Tell a Compelling Story

Celebrities do interviews and tell the same story 58 times. The story you tell is what defines your brand. PR agencies often help you craft and tell the most compelling story. Just because you may not be able to afford one doesn’t mean you can’t afford to do that work on your own. What makes you interesting? Are there funny or poignant stories behind the making of your business? A good place to start is to ask why you do what you do. Simon Sinek famously had the Start with Why TedTalk. He has a program available to help you find your “why.” It’s easy to take this story and run with it. 

Speaking Engagements

Once you have an idea of your story and your brand you can use it to book speaking engagements. An interesting story is welcome at expos and industry events because people are curious. It also shakes up what can be boring at times. You can submit to speak at these events and leverage more press or visibility to your book, project, or business. Once you have that compelling story, you can try to get a TedTalk or something similar that fits your budget. 

Be an Expert

Now, that might sound vague, but you have expertise. Part of PR is connecting what you have and who you are with who might need it. By becoming an “expert” in your field or a source in your specific niche, you can better get your face in front of people. You can provide quotes to the press, do interviews, or write about key topics in your field. This brings us to…

Write 

Can’t find your own press? Why not create some?  Writing your compelling content can potentially go viral. Now, there’s no way to predict what can go viral. But, writing about important topics in your industry, sharing your unique story, or entertaining an audience can all lead to new prospects, attention, and greater visibility for your brand. There’s also the added bonus of getting better SEO visibility on search engines and potentially being picked up by other writers as a source of information on key topics. 

Appear on Podcasts

Everyone has a podcast these days. Appearing as a podcast guest can be the perfect way for you to plug anything and everything. If you have a new book, upcoming speaking engagement, or a new business, a podcast can be a huge win. Podcasts not only put you in front of a brand new audience but they’re also listed on major platforms like iTunes and Spotify, which can help get you more visibility online and on social media. 

MatchMaker.FM is a website where you can list yourself as a guest or list your podcast.  Don’t want to message countless podcasts or do research? Services like Interview Connections can help you get on a podcast. 

Create Relationships

Part of what you’re paying for with PR is an agent’s or agency’s close relationship with the press, media outlets, and other tastemakers. High-profile influencers and celebrities get access to free products all the time. The logic is they wear it and get photographed and then people come to your business. Look who in your industry might be someone you can connect with. Sometimes, just reaching out to someone on social media or to the local news can get you media coverage. 

Help a Reporter Out 

One of the easiest ways to build strong relationships with the press is to make their job easier. Part of building your cache in the press is to share information. After a successful interview or great sound byte, you can become their go-to person when they have questions about a certain industry topic, trend, or high-profile news story. HARO is a service that sends you information requests from countless media outlets. By being a source you help validate yourself in the industry. And it can bring a lot more attention to your business, book, or project. 

Send Out a Press Release… For Free

Press releases can be a great way to get some traction on what you do. But not everyone is combing the PR Newswire. Plus, it can cost money to post and there are no guarantees. This is one of the PR gambles. Did your agency write the most impressive press release? Did they get it to the right people? Sites like Newswire and NPR.org accept press releases for free. This list also features websites that will accept press releases for free. 

Buy the Book 

Cameron Herold and Adrian Salamunovic wrote Free PR: How to Get Chased By The Press Without Hiring a PR Firm. It might be worth picking up a copy to see any additional tips or strategies to get yourself a ton of great PR. 

PR agencies do great work. They help create relationships and can get you buzz. But there are no guarantees. If you’re first starting out, need a miracle, or just don’t have the time to hire an agency, these tips should help you get your name out without having to risk breaking the law.

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