The 10 Most Effective PR Strategies To Get Your Small Business Published Online
Getting your business published online is essential as a small business owner. These days, online public relations (PR) builds credibility, strengthens trust, and makes brands easier to find. It's likely you already know why your business needs PR, but you probably don't know how to get your business published online.
Where would you look, who would you talk to, how would you even start?
We're going to break down 10 accessible strategies to get online PR for your business. These methods are vetted by PR experts and small business owners just like you and will leave you amazed at how easy securing solid PR can be.
By the time you're done reading, you'll understand how to boost your web traffic, build brand awareness, increase your lead-generation, gain social media followers, and skyrocket your sales!
Already have a solid foundation on how to find online opportunities? Jump to the second and third articles in our three-part PR series, How To Pitch Publications and Strategies To Create PR-Worthy Content.
1. The Best Free PR Tool: HARO
HARO stands for "Help A Reporter Out" and is a free service for business owners to connect with reporters. In exchange for expertise, qualified respondents may be featured in the reporter's story. In fact, this article used HARO to source insight from business owners on the topic of securing online PR coverage.
Wondering what sort of results you can expect to see from HARO? Jase Rodley, Founder of Jase Rodley & Dialed Labs explains:
"Using HARO is a fantastic and low cost way to get free PR. Our marketing manager scours the HARO emails each day and then forwards over relevant ones to different people/job titles in the company. We send it to our PR company to check it over quickly then forward it on.
They'll pitch their expertise to the journalist and if they use your comment then you get a name check and brand mention in the article. Most of the media publications that use HARO have a very high readership so you'll get a lot of eyes on your brand, whether for the first time or repeats, it all helps.
An email takes about 10-15 minutes to compose, and we usually get 1 mention per every 4-5 emails, so less than one hour for a media mention, that is great value for money."
Anyone can sign up for this free service to get queries in your mailbox three times a day. A couple of minutes of scanning to see if there is a fit, a short yet informative response, and boom! You could end up quoted in a major news outlet. HARO is the easiest way to get some great coverage.
And in case you're wondering what sorts of media publications with high readership you might be featured on, Aalap Shah, Founder of 1o8, tells us "A few of my responses have been featured in publications like Fortune, Forbes, NY Times, and other larger publications along with many industry specific sites."
2. Powerful Paid PR Tools
HARO's not the only tool you can use to connect with publications and journalists. Janice Wald of Mostly Blogging uses HOTH. While not a free service, if you pay $99, you can choose one article you want to be published by news outlets. Janice reports, "When I paid for HOTH's service, I received 136 links from news sources such as NBC and Fox news. HOTH is an SEO service and helps online business owners with SEO."
3. Buddy Up With Journalists In Your Niche Or Industry
The majority of our HARO respondents mentioned building relationships with journalists as the key to being featured online. It's important to connect with a journalist or publication within your industry.
Larissa Banting of El Bee PR Consulting gives expert advice on how to go about pitching journalists directly:
"Reach out to a journalist who covers your topic. Follow them on Twitter, comment on their Tweets, share their stories and build up a relationship. When you pitch a story to them, come at it from the standpoint of sharing something that would be of interest to their audience. Have the story angle crafted so it's interesting and well-thought out. The easier you can make the reporter's job, the more likely they will want to speak with you.
Also, read! When you see a story about something in your niche and your company offers a product or service that compliments or continues the journey of whatever the topic was for that article, reach out to the journalist, complimenting them on the story and offering your company as being the perfect follow up."
Axel DeAngelis, Founder of NameBounce, makes another fine point for you to keep in mind. “Reporters have less and less time nowadays, and they are grateful when you can gift-wrap a story for them." So make sure to hand reporters a story on a platter. They'll be grateful and more likely to publicize your business!
4. Start With The Low Hanging Fruit By Tapping Into Your Current Network And Personal Interests
As a PR Consultant, Larissa Banting knows you don't have to reach far to gain impactful online publicity. The publicity you need might be right under your nose!
"My approach with clients is to start with the 'low hanging fruit.' Their alma mater, hobbies, charities, challenges – anything they are or have been involved with has some sort of magazine or media outlet. Connect with your college's alumni magazine about how your studies there have helped shape you to become the successful business owner you are now.
Love to crochet? Pitch a story idea to one of the dozen yarn-crafting publications about how your love for the intricacies of needlework has given you the ability to hone-in on the interconnections of your clients and vendors at work."
Think about the publications, networks, and groups you're already connected to, and reach out. Your personal connections will increase the chances of your message resonating with the publishers, as well as their audience. It's a win-win.
5. Go Local To Build Strong Connections
Continuing with the right-under-your-nose approach, think local. Start with local directories. John Pinedo, Founder of Freedom Bound Business tells us that "A better way to get more exposure online, especially if the business is local, is to get on the big and more niche-specific directories. Directories include Yelp, Thumbtack, HomeAdvisor, Angie's List, and more. The smaller ones can be useful too, but I suggest only picking the ones specific to the business's geo-local area or a particular profession."
Veronica Figueroa, PR Strategist at Laughing Samurai, suggests that "Small business owners and new businesses should introduce themselves and become members of their local or regional tourism organizations, chambers of commerce, and other relevant community groups. While your business may not currently have the budget to hire a public relations agency, connecting with these organizations will bring forward many opportunities, such as paid, low-cost or free opportunities including appearing on their website, being featured on their social media channels, and being considered for events and media opportunities."
6. Don't Forget To Publish Yourself Online To Establish Credibility
When seeking online publicity from other organizations, you must first publicize yourself using your own organization. Like Brian Robben, CEO of Robben Media explains, "By writing blog posts that are in-depth and full of value to readers, other publications on the internet will start to notice. This attention leads to backlinks to your site, quotes of your article on their website, and invitations for guest posts."
Some other outlets where you can publish your own content include LinkedIn's article publishing platform, Medium.com, and your own email list. All are outlets to establish credibility before pitching to other publications, increasing your chances of being featured.
7. Create Win-Win Situations By Guest Posting On Other Sites
Once you start publishing yourself, you might start getting invitations to guest post on other websites. And if you don't, it's a good idea to pitch guest posts.
This is another strategy that Axel DeAngelis from NameBounce recommends. "Guest posting is one of the best ways to get published online. Online media outlets need to produce a significant amount of content. By writing for them, you make the editor's job easier and get exposure for your company at the same time. It's best to start with smaller publications, then use what you wrote to pitch to larger authority sites."
8. Go Online With Good Old Fashioned News
While broadcast news and newspapers aren't online, they always have online publications now. Leah Frazier, President of Think Three Media and two-time Emmy award-winning entrepreneur, explains that "Most TV and/or news outlets will allow you to pitch them directly through their website. Create a pitch for your business or brand that showcases your expertise (and not advertising your brand or business directly) and submit it through the website if you do not know the producer's email address. If it's a great pitch, they will email you back to schedule you to come on-air."
And the best way to pitch a story that sticks is to do something newsworthy with your brand. Copper H2O CEO Jessica Rose says, "Our best tip for getting news coverage online is to visibly give back to your community. This is becoming more and more important as customers (and the news, which services the interests of customers) become more and more socially conscious.
At our company, we have long maintained a 'good karma' program whereby we donate 15% of our profits to non-profit groups that work to supply clean drinking water in developing countries. In addition, since the onset of COVID-19, we have advised our customers that we will be donating these profits to charities supporting coronavirus relief efforts, including by donating N95 masks to hospitals. We also offer a discount to doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals on the front lines. It's the right thing to do, and promoting these aspects of our business has earned us mentions in a variety of online publications."
9. Talk Yourself Up Online With Podcasts
Podcasts are a great medium to gain an online presence, and they are heavily on the rise. CEO and Creative Director of Girl In Heels Travels, Julie Ann Dokowicz, suggests going on a podcast tour. "Begin reaching out to medium-sized podcasts (3-4k listeners is a good minimum size) within your niche and ask to be interviewed on podcasts. This exposes you to a new audience in your niche, for free!"
Michael Lowe, CEO of Carpassionate.com, gives some additional food for thought:
"Good PR can come from any place, however I believe that you can find free and great outreach through podcasts. There are millions of them out there, each specializing in a different field or topic. This means that there are hundreds of thousands of people tuning in to a podcast on the topic that your business is about. Smaller podcasts may look to bring you in on their show, or even promote your business if you sponsor an episode, like I say, small podcasts may not have a large audience just yet, meaning that your costs can be kept low. And if the podcast does start to perform well, you are always in the back of the mind of the producer as someone who invested their time and even money when things weren't so great. Also, it's a brilliant way to network with others in the same field, I think a lot more businesses need to think outside of the normal marketing and PR methods."
10. Take Advantage Of Social Proof By Partnering With Influencers
Rebecca White of Prana Brush explains how her company uses influencers:
"We have benefited from free or nearly free PR by partnering with influencers that have audiences which fit our target market. In many cases, influencers will agree to review your product/service at no charge, provided only that you provide a sample of your offering. By partnering with influencers, you can help spread visibility of your brand across multiple channels while also benefiting from the social proof that comes with an endorsement from someone with a loyal audience.
These partnerships also commonly result in blog posts with backlinks to your site, which help it earn greater visibility in search engines. In addition, influencers are often interested in running giveaways, which results in still further buzz and interest in your brand. This strategy is a great idea for any new or emerging business that needs to increase their visibility without the benefit of a marketing budget."
Before reading this article, you might've been at a loss on how to start publicizing your business online. But now, you've got 10 tried-and-true sources of PR, and that's just the start! Creativity is the name of the game when it comes to marketing your business online. We hope this has helped both inspire you and help you cut through to the most effective strategies available.
Next, read the other two articles in this special PR series: pitching to publications and how to create content for publishers. You may also want to check out marketing tips for ecommerce product listings.