Guest post by Kari DePhillips (learn more about the author at the end of the article):
When it comes to maximizing your online marketing budget and getting the most out of every dollar spent, PR is almost always the way to go. A 3-minute segment on the Today show or a profile piece in a glossy magazine can be more effective at introducing new people to your brand and products than thousands of tweets and Facebook status updates (or dozens of blogs).
Beyond just raising awareness of your business, PR gives you unique content that you can continuously promote and backlinks that money can’t buy. This is fantastic for site’s SEO and lead to significantly more organic search traffic over time. But how do you get major media placement? And what if you’re on a tight budget?
Believe it or not, many of the PR tools that fancy public relations companies use to get their clients placement are available to anyone – and are free. Business owners can achieve placement success on their own – without paying a public relations company – if they use these three free PR tools regularly:
Short for “Help a Reporter Out”, HARO puts business owners in direct contact with reporters who are looking for sources for their stories. If you sign up for these daily emails, you’ll be sent 100+ reporter queries each week. With that kind of volume, there’s almost certain to be at least a couple of opportunities each month that you can respond to. PitchRate, Source Bottle and MediaKitty (the latter is for travel/tourism-related businesses only) are all similar to HARO, and are also worth signing up for.
If you’re not knee deep in your site’s Google analytics, you could be missing out on some serious traffic opportunities. Keep a close eye on your referral traffic, so you can get an idea of which sites are already sending you traffic (and then figure out ways they can send you more – maybe write a guest blog, or make a bigger effort interact with the sites via social media). You can also see which pages on your site get the most social media traffic – if you see that certain topics resonate better with visitors than others, you can engineer your content to better target your audience.
Reporters who cover your industry are on Twitter, so you should be, too. Building and regularly interacting with your Twitter lists can be an important aspect of increasing your company’s visibility. Your lists should include media outlets, bloggers and reporters who cover your industry. Also create lists that include your competitors (check out what they do, and see if they have any ideas worth “borrowing”).
When reporters are already familiar with you, they’re significantly more likely to reach out to you directly – instead of sending out a HARO query, for instance. This can lead to quite a bit more coverage and help to establish relationships that you can benefit from in the future.
There’s a slight learning curve with all of these tools, but if you stick with it you can absolutely secure your own PR placement. Once you get the ball rolling and have some media coverage under your belt, you can leverage it to get even more. If you can kick that pebble down the hill and get it to snowball, your brand and business will benefit from it.