As the U.S. economy continues to stumble along, small business owners are searching for low-cost and no-cost ways to promote their businesses and get their name in front of potential customers. "Even with talk about a recovering economy, businesses are still watching every penny," says Drew Gerber, CEO of Wasabi Publicity, Inc., a boutique PR firm in North Carolina.
PR is a perfect way for small business owners and profesionals to get attention and attract new customers. "Nothing has people knocking on your door like PR," says Gerber. "Most companies know this, but not all have the budget to hire a PR firm. The good news is you don't have to."
That's because there are so many free or low-cost ways to get PR via the Internet. It's never been easier to practice your own public relations. But it takes time and effort on your part. Here are eight frugal PR tools you can use to launch your own public relations effort.
1. PRWeb is a low-cost news release submission and distribution service used by many small firms. News and press releases distributed via PRWeb raise your online visibility where millions of people are searching for information. When you submit your news releases to PRWeb, they will be indexed by search engines such as Google, sent to news sites such as Yahoo! News and placed into RSS feeds with more than 250,000 subscribers that include bloggers, journalists and consumers.
PRWeb also helps you build back links and inbound links from other premium sites, one of the most important assets to build your website's credibility in search engines. All of this helps drive traffic by helping people find you online and click through to your website. One of the best parts about PRWeb is all of the free help available on the site. Look in the "Tools & Tips" section for advice on how to write a good press release, common press release mistakes, best practices for online news releases, how to format your news release and more.
2. Free Press Release lets you submit releases at no charge. The basic service provides free distribution to Google News and other popular search engines. If you register (still free) you have additional capabilities to log into your account, monitor your release, and delete it. A more expansive paid service is also available.
3. Another free press release distribution service called 1888PressRelease.com sends your releases to search engines, news wires and websites. For a modest fee, you can upgrade to wider distribution. You can also attach files, logos or images to your press release if you want.
4. PitchRate.com is a free service that connects journalists with topic experts -- such as small business owners -- for free media coverage. Basically, it's a place where you can get free media leads. PitchRate also offers helpful (free) information on how to get free publicity, PR tips, personal branding ideas and more. It sponsors regular free "PR Happy Hour" conference calls that let you talk live with marketing and PR experts, ask questions and get free advice.
5. For a free list of local newspapers and other publications in any area of the country, as well as Canada and a few other countries check out a site called US Newspaper List at www.usnpl.com. For a fee you can purchase and download a spreadsheet or mailing address label file for all of the U.S. newspapers listed on the site -- about 3,900. Information is updated quarterly.
6. PRnewswire.com and Businesswire.com are the two largest news release distribution services used by major companies and organizations. These services are more expensive than others, but even if you don't use their paid services you can learn a lot by seeing what kinds of releases other companies are issuing. You can view releases for free at the site, with hundreds issued daily.
7. Enhanced Online News (EON), a new service from BusinessWire, is a terrific way to turn a basic press release into an interactive web page with all kinds of cool bells and whistles, including images (such as your logo) and video. Cost is $195 and includes lifetime hosting of your online press release and up to three photos and videos. See the site for live examples.
8. If don't already have a LogoNerds.com.