6 ways to work with shoestring PR budgets

Effective communication tactics don’t have to break the bank—or your departmental budget. If you run a small outfit, here’s how to make the most of it.

Message to small-businesses owners: “You don’t have to suffer in silence.”

Organizations with tiny staffs and a shoestring marketing budget can look larger than life by mastering simple, cost-effective guerrilla PR tactics. Many smaller organizations don’t have in-house PR, so their CEOs and marketing leads must be more creative—and strategic—than large organizations.

Here are six proven ways PR pros for small organizations can make the most of lean and mean PR:

1. Partner with well-known brands. Make it easy for them to partner with you; do all the legwork.

Use free tools like Google Alerts to see what’s trending and who’s doing what. You’ll discover complementary brands—your future business partners. Your outreach will be well received if you do your homework and offer real value.

2. Don’t take it personally when the crème de la crème of the “influencer” community doesn’t return your calls. It will take time, brand building and a compelling success story before national mainstream media and top-tier celebrity influencers pay attention.

In the meantime, build relationships with the trade, local media and emerging bloggers or social media users building their follower base.

Trade journalists take pride in discovering new, interesting companies. Tier-two celebrities want to get attached to companies that show potential. If you’re in the food business, forget about Bobby Flay pushing your products. Instead, engage with the many well-respected-but-still-emerging chefs. Eventually, Mr. Flay may notice.

3. Focus on media exclusives. Your small business won’t often have breaking news, nor the resources to nurture deep relationships with journalists.

Instead, cultivate a handful of key media relationships. When you have news to share, offer one reporter exclusive access. A single article that reports your news outweighs a bunch of news briefs.

4. Realize your limits . If you run a small business, you can’t create content, share it, engage with followers and monitor your progress on many social networks.

Pick two or three to work on your behalf and start building your community with engaging content. To get started, take the lead from other companies in your industry. Mirror the content they post until you’re comfortable developing your social media personality.

5. Blog at least twice a month. Offer the blog to trade publications you have been cultivating. Their websites (and print versions) are hungry for good contributed articles. If you have time to publish a digital newsletter for your customers, include links to your posts.

6. Use free resources . Tools like Help A Reporter Out help you respond to queries from journalists looking for expert sources on trends, new products or services and issues you can weigh in on.

In case you’re wondering, shoestring budget supposedly comes from shoestring gambler. The gambling references were recorded as early as 1804.

Another theory is that the term is used to describe a low budget because shoestrings are low to the ground. Shoestrings are cheap, so the idea of only having enough money to buy shoelaces may also be part of the name.

Jim Barbagallo is the founder of Pilot Communications Group. A version of this story originally appeared on his firm’s blog.

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Topics: PR

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