Sometimes the best things in life are free. Publicity and word of mouth advertising are two such things, and they don’t need to cost a lot of money.
Free publicity is attractive because third party comments will usually be taken as having more credibility than paid advertising, and of course, because it’s free. Although we refer to publicity as free, there is usually going to be an investment of time and thought in order to get the buzz going. Here are a few ideas for getting free publicity.
1. First, do a fabulous job of serving your customers so that they tell their friends about your goods and refer them to your business. Called “word of mouth” advertising, this is the most powerful of all.
2. You can approach individuals and ask them to provide you with testimonials. Choose people who have high credibility for your customers and be sensitive; if they decline, accept the “no” and move on. Testimonials can be in written, audio or video format. Videos are most powerful for website promotions.
3. Approach your local newspaper and ask if they will do an article on your business. In order to do this, you need to be newsworthy so it pays to put some time into figuring out what the ‘hook’ is. It’s helpful if your product or service solves a problem in some new or remarkable way.
4. Publish a blog. When you blog, and if you write interesting blogs, other bloggers can pick up your articles and link to them, creating widespread publicity.
5. Support or sponsor a person or local cause. As an example, one entrepreneur sat at the top of a pole in a highly visible location to create publicity and collect funds for a great social cause.
6. Do something outstanding or newsworthy. Climb a mountain, walk or run a remarkable distance, compete in a pie-eating contest, swim a long distance, go without food. If you’re newsworthy, media will write about what you’re doing.
7. Create and publish a top ten list about something to do with your business.
8. Prove a myth or stereotype in your industry wrong.
9. Do a customer survey and include controversial questions. Write about the results.
10. Develop an annual award that you give out to someone in the community or a business in your industry.
11. Offer surprising facts about your industry or business. For instance, if you’re a recruitment firm write an article titled, “The Average Starting Salary of An MBA Graduate is 40 percent Higher Than Their Pre-MBA Earnings.”
12. Create a story that piggybacks off an event, a national story, or something historical.
13. Tell your story, or the story of why you started your business.
14. Be the first, the best, the faster, the cheapest, the most innovative.
15. Build a story around holidays or special days.
Ideally, your publicity efforts will be interesting enough to inspire others (reporters) to write about your business, but don’t hesitate to write up the articles yourself and offer them for use. Most professionals are very busy and will appreciate all you do to make their job easier.