These five online strategies can help you spread the word about your business without having to spend a penny.
Help a Reporter and Get Exposure
HARO, short for “Help a Reporter Out,” is a great way to share your expertise with the world and get media exposure. Basically, HARO connects journalists who are working on stories with sources who have expertise to share.
Here’s how HARO works: You sign up to receive email leads from reporters, authors, bloggers and producers. These leads are for all industries and can help you get your name on radio, TV, or in written articles and books. The leads arrive in your inbox, where you can decide which ones to respond to. You can respond to leads that are on target with your knowledge base. If the individual is interested in your inquiry, they will contact you for more information. Sometimes, reporters just want a quote, and other times, they might want to ask for more information or conduct a follow-up interview. You may not land a national news story each time you respond to a lead, but HARO provides lots of opportunities to promote your business at no cost.
Distribute a Press Release
A well-written press release can be a helpful tool for sharing news about your business for two reasons. First, if you distribute your release to the right media outlets, it may be read by a large, targeted audience. Secondly, a press release distributed widely that mentions your business name and contains links back to your site can improve your ranking on search engines. If you’re unsure how to write a press release, there are many online sources with detailed instructions.
Once you’ve written your release, you have a wide range of online sources for distributing your news. You can start with the many free press release distribution sites such as PR.com and PRLog.com that can help you get your story picked up on various sites like Google News. Next, you can try for larger distribution by submitting online to the global news network Associated Press. Finally, you can send your release via email to your local media and industry outlets.
Write and Publish an Article
Are you known within your industry as someone who is particularly knowledgeable? If so, another great way to promote your business and your own personal brand as an expert is to write an online article. No, you don’t have to write a lengthy, complex editorial piece. It can be as short as 400 to 600 words and as simple as a list of five helpful tips.
Become a Guest Blogger
Almost every industry has its share of bloggers who are keeping up with industry news and following its movers and shakers. It’s well worth your time to identify these individuals and reach out to them by commenting on their posts or sending them an email. Once you’ve established a relationship, they might be open to you providing a guest blog post, where you can tailor content specifically to their audience. These opportunities can be a particularly useful way to build credibility while also gaining valuable backlinks to your company website.
Although many small business owners still attend morning breakfast mixers to meet others within their industry or community, an increasing number are finding success on a much bigger scale by networking online. LinkedIn is by far the biggest of these sites, but there are countless online networking groups and organizations that can help you make connections while you promote your business locally, nationally and even internationally. Both Fast Company’s “Company of Friends” and Google Groups are excellent resources for finding groups specific to your needs.
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Originally published Aug 05, 2010, updated Aug 12, 2020