Zero Budget Public Relations – Part 1

First, if you are a PR agency or a brand with a PR agency, this stuff is way below you and you can just skip to the next blog.  BUT, if you manage the marketing for a brand with a microscopic PR budget (or no budget at all), keep reading.

Second, by no means have I figured out this whole “FREE PR” thing.  I can tell you that PR is a big component in my marketing plan and we work very hard on using it to spread the word about our brand.  And I can tell you that my yearly marketing budget is about $2500 and I try to spread that throughout the year.

Here are some things I have learned along the way that will hopefully help you get some good targeted exposure and avoid wasting some money:

  1. Your media relations contact list is never complete. It’s always a work in progress.  I would recommend that you devote a day per quarter toward going thru the list to update or delete contact info.
  2. Don’t waste your money on media tracking services. From time to time, you might get a call from a company that will track your media hits and package them up in a nice daily or weekly email that you can forward to your boss and make you feel good.  Don’t buy that stuff.  There is a company out there that does it for free.  Their name is Google.  You might have heard of them.
  3. Avoid the high priced wire services. I’ve gone down this road and it can get expensive in a hurry.  National distribution with a photo and you’re up to $1500 bucks before you know it.  Sure they can get your press release in the email box of writers around the country, but it’s never really resulted in anything more than a Google or Yahoo! listing for me.  The media sees this stuff as junk mail and rarely ever pays attention to it.
  4. Put one press release on the high priced wire once per year. Ok, total contradiction from point 3, but I do see some value in putting one press release on the wire once a year just so that your contact name is in the database, making it easier for a reporter to find you when they’re writing a story on your industry and need an “expert” to interview.
  5. Find some free online press release distribution site that you like. I found a list of websites that offer press release distribution services here.  Some actually are free, some aren’t.  Personally, I like prlog.org and clickpress.com.  Once you find some websites that you like, post your press releases there and measure the results.  I do this by changing one, small thing on the press release on each site so that I can keep track of which one worked best.

In part 2 of this blog post, I’ll talk more about the message, who to target and how to build a relationship with them.

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