As a new business, you’ve likely got a limited budget. Marketing needs to part of that budget, but there are ways to get press for your new business for next to nothing. The more good press you get, the better off you’ll be. Getting traditional press coverage, however, is difficult since journalists and editors are constantly inundated with pitches. So, to get coverage, it’s best to bypass those usual methods. If you’re struggling to get the word out about your new business, take a look at these ways to get the momentum started.
Work with Bloggers and Influencers
Start with your friend Google. You can use it to find blogs related to your niche or product. Beyond blogs, you’ll also be able to find influencers and journalists, who can help spread the word about your product. After all, studies show X% of customers trust online reviews and opinions when it comes to buying new products and services.
Try a variety of search terms, such as:
- Top [niche] bloggers
- Top [niche] influencers
- [niche] product reviews
- [niche] bloggers
- [niche] influencers
Collect as much information as you can, such as the contributor’s name, email address, and even where they live. You never know what will be useful. Take a look at their recent work, and mention it when you reach out to them. This lets them know you’ve done some homework and paid attention.
If you’re short on time, or just don’t want to do all that research, you can use a service like Press Farm, which has pricing plans starting at $18/month. You’ll get contact information for up to 100 journalists a month, with unlimited search results.
Contact Popular Product Blogs
There are many blogs out there highlighting new or cool products – and they are known for driving traffic to online stores. Once you’ve reviewed the publications to make sure they are a fit with your audience (and you a fit with theirs), reach out to them. This is an important step, as many of the sites on this list specialize in products for men – and if yours isn’t – you’re wasting time.
- Bless This Stuff
- I Waste So Much Money
- Shut Up and Take My Money
- The Manual
- In Stash
- The Awesomer
- Gear Patrol
- Gear Hungry
- Cool Material
- Cool Hunting
Don’t just send them a generic email pitch with something like, “Hey this is my product – I think it’s awesome. Cover it for me.” That will no doubt get ignored.
Instead, take the time to highlight what’s awesome about your product, why their audience will love it, and offer to send one for review. Keep it short and sweet to save time, but include relevant information, like links to more information, and a contact phone number, so they know how to get more information if they need it.
If you don’t want to get lost in the shuffle of email –
- Search Google to see if your publication is owned by another company – and go there to contact.
- Search the WHOIS database for the domain and find the owner’s information. Contact them through that email address.
- Find one of the publication’s writers and connect with them on LinkedIn. Send them a personal message – but keep it simple.
- Locate a phone number and leave a voicemail.
Check the Competition’s Backlink Profile
Use a tool like Open Site Explorer to take a look at the websites linking to your competition. When you see where their links are coming from, this can give you an idea of where you should be looking too. Getting links from the same sites can help you compete in the search engines, but beyond that, can expose you to similar audiences of potential customers.
Simply enter your competitor’s domain name in the tool, and head on over to the inbound links tab. You’ll get a full list of links, ranked by page authority. Now, you see where your competition’s traffic is coming from and all you have to do is reach out to the websites.
When you reach out, make sure you’re not pitching. If you’re sending out a generic pitch email, it’s likely you will not get a response. Instead, go for the long game of building a real relationship. Take the time to craft a custom email for each, with personality, and you’ll be going a long way toward guaranteeing a response.
Other things you can do include:
- Write an attention-grabbing email subject.
- Include your phone number, so they have an easy way to get in touch if they have questions.
- Offer to send a product sample – even if it means you have to pay for it. (That’s what tax write offs are for. But, remember, I’m not a tax professional, so that isn’t official tax advice.)
- Follow up after a week if you don’t get a response.
Make Help a Reporter Out (HARO) Your Best Friend
HARO is where a lot of journalists go to get quotes for stories. Oftentimes, they’re running on a tight deadline, and looking for someone who can respond quickly. Sign up as a source for reporters to use in their upcoming stories, and be ready when they come to you. As easy as that is, it’s also a good idea to check every day or at least once a week, to see if you can meet any requests. Don’t always expect the journalists to come to you.
You’ll get three emails a day, at 5:35 a.m., 12:35 p.m., and 5:35 p.m., EST Monday through Friday. These can help you find source requests relevant to your niche, expertise, or personal experience. Each email will be masked, but you can send pitches to them. Make sure your pitch always includes answers to the questions, any specific requirements, and a biography with your contact information. Leaving out vital information increases the chance the journalist will skip over your reply.
Go Where Your Customers Are
Maintain an active presence where your customers are. Go beyond the standard Facebook and Twitter, to joining communities, groups, and forums where your target audience is most likely to be found. For this approach to be effective, however, you’ll need to do more than just promote your own products and services. Be a productive member of the community – ask and answer questions. Really participate. You’ll strengthen your brand image that way, and improve the quality of your leads at the same time.
Use Social Communities
If you’ve got a new techy product, Product Hunt is a great place to be. It’s a community where users can share and discover new products. When your product is submitted, it becomes part of a linear list which is grouped by the day it was submitted. Categories include: Tech, Games, Podcasts, Books, Artificial Intelligence, Books, Developer Tools, Games, Get S*it Done, and Smart Home. The site also features a comment and voting system which can help increase exposure.
Reddit is another, often under utilized, platform to connect with people. A word of warning though – this is not the community to go into if you just want to talk about yourself and promote your products or services. If you join here, you should plan on dedicating time and effort into building a real presence. You won’t be taken seriously, and could do some major damage to your brand if you’re not focused on making the community a better place. It’s a massive platform with more than five billion page views a month, so it’s a great way to get feedback throughout your product design and development phases.
Reddit can also be a bit rough around the edges, and isn’t necessarily the place for your brand to be, depending on your niche or industry and the subreddits you become part of. Do your research to make sure this is a definite place you’ll find your customers before committing to it.
Write a Press Release
Press releases are how a lot of stories get picked up. Once you post a press release and get it distributed, there’s a decent chance many publications will pick it up, and others will republish the press release itself. However, you can’t just write a press release about anything and everything and expect it to take off. When possible, include data in your press release, because it provides more substance to the material, and gives publications an angle to run with.
Your press release can build backlinks, so you want to write it, or have it written with SEO in mind. Manual submission can be time consuming, so if you have the budget, go ahead and plan on paying for distribution. Some services can distribute your press release for as little as $35.
Partner with Other Organizations
There are a couple of ways to approach this one – and you can even do both, if you want. Sponsor an event or host a fundraiser for a good cause. While I’m all for choosing a cause you personally believe in and support, don’t use your business to do it if your target audience won’t be there. Save that for personal contributions. You’ll get publicity for donating time and money to the cause.
Or, if you’re in an area where there are a lot of similar businesses – particularly the restaurant industry, advertise with them, instead of against them. Several cities have independent restaurant associations, like Kansas City, Asheville, and St. Augustine. Each website highlights all the independently owned and operated restaurants in the area. By providing a central resource for all diners in the area to figure out which restaurants serve what cuisine, whether or not they are kid-friendly, whether or not there is a full bar, and what kind of price range to expect, people can quickly and easily find what they want for lunch or dinner.
Keep it Going
Once you’ve gotten featured in a few publications, there’s no reason to stop aiming for more. Aim to send at least one request per day, if not more, to either an influencer or journalist. Always look out for new businesses to connect with for cross-promotional purposes. Even if you’ve reached a level of sustainable growth, additional press can keep it moving.
It in essence, it will create a snowball effect. If you’ve been featured in a large publication, others will take note and feature your product. When enough noise is made, you may find publications and news outlets reaching out to you.
When you’ve been featured in noteworthy publications, it’s time to create a press section, or at least a small banner on your homepage with the logos to those publications. This creates social proof, which helps increase buyer trust in your business.
Getting press coverage, especially at the national level, is not easy. Your media profile isn’t going to magically appear overnight. It will take months… years… to build. And that’s okay. Be patient, and set realistic expectations. Be persistent, and learn from your mistakes. You’ll eventually get the results you’re looking for.
Do you have any other ideas for getting press for your business on a budget? Share ’em with me in the comments.
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