I don’t know if there’s a business person out there that doesn’t perk up when the word ‘free’ comes up. And, include me there!  I love to hear about new no-cost tools and tips that will like my life and business more productive – and help me stretch my marketing and PR budget.

So in the spirit of sharing and promoting your small business and brand, I’ll list 9 below:

9 Cool Free Publicity Tools and Tactics

  1. What about a Nighttime Silhouette? Find a large empty wall on a busy road near your business and project your logo on it at night. Think of it as a cool billboard without the cost. Though I’ve never done it, I imagine you need a timer too!
  2. Volunteer your boss or CEO! If you’re out and about, online and otherwise, you’re running into journalists and industry leaders who are looking for guests on podcasts, for interviews and possibly as speakers or panelists. See if they might like to feature your CEO as an expert. Your CEO will see you as a star and advocate for the company and rewards, my friend, come in many ways. Note: This also works for you!
  3. How about the risers on stairs? Last summer, I vacationed in Maine and noticed how shops on the second floor of buildings used advertising copy to influence customers to climb the stairs and see their store. I loved this idea. Would something like this work for you? What space do you have underutilized?
  4. Don’t underestimate the value of your email signature. Email Shmemail. It doesn’t have to be boring, you know. Add links or icons to your social media feeds or landing pages where you’re featuring new products or offers. Authors can give away chapters of their books. Experts, white papers. You get it. This is free promotional space that can change up as freely as you like and costs zippo.
  5. Use Twitter as a Focus Group. Want to test out a new idea, vote on a design or get some feedback? Look no further than Twitter. Use the audience you’ve built as a sounding board to ask questions, engage in conversation and increase your visibility and PR status at the same time. It’s free and targeted. Change up your tweets and test them out.  Ask and you will receive!
  6. Be an Expert columnist. I hope most of you are blogging. And if you are, it should be easy to tweak, copy and paste. The key word here is repurpose. You’ll get lots of eyeballs as an expert in your field when you have a column. This works for online and offline publications (or other blogs). If the publisher wants compensation for the promotional real estate, fine. Be open to Q + A from readers, consider speaking at an upcoming event or offer to be an online or offline joint venture partner.
  7. Hire an Artist for Sidewalk Graffiti. You don’t have to live near an art school to find an artist who’d like to draw on your sidewalk or side of the building! If you’re going big and using the side of an abandoned building, get fellow business owners to chip in. Perhaps this artist would be thrilled with a feature story or needs that just one, je ne sais quoi piece to go to the next level? You could be the answer to his/her prayers, and he/she to yours. Open space can be used in a number of ways. Be creative in your thinking!
  8. Create a video for your LinkedIn summary. I can hear you say, I didn’t know you could do that? Well, you can! It doesn’t have to be super fancy or long, but you can include a short video in that section if you want to stand out in a crowd. Don’t forget too to beef up your LinkedIn profile with rich key word marketing and PR copy – and use all the characters.
  9. Hire an Intern to who loves Pinterest. Many of you probably know what a goldmine Pinterest is, especially to attract a female audience. You also may know that including your URL on images can link back to your website, blog or special offer landing page. Have a strategy in mind to follow and pin – and of course, be colorful and relevant to your brand!

That’s it for today, for cool PR and marketing ideas. Shake it up. Be Bold. And, Rent my Brain if you need help creating a buzz for your business!

Who doesn’t like free publicity?

Free publicity is one of my favorite subjects to talk about because it’s all about PR Power on a Budget. You can get the biggest bang for your buck when you utilize all of the tricks and tools that are available to promote yourself or your business.

I could go on for days about all of your options, but for today – let’s concentrate on 3 Ways to Get Free Publicity to put you on the right path!

First up, read one of my own articles called 7 Reasons to Give a Workshop. Technically, by giving a workshop you aren’t working for free – but there are countless publicity and marketing opportunities you can take advantage of by hosting and promoting your own events. Read the full article here on how events help you get free publicity to promote your brand, raise your expert status and of course – help you get noticed!

Next, let’s look at what promotion vehicles you have in place and how you can use them to your advantage.  If you have a blog and are writing as often as you should be, you have a great way to get free publicity for your own business. Write about your new product launch, where you’re speaking next or your own charity involvement.  Get permission to link to other businesses or influence leaders circles — and make sure to promote your blog articles on social media for that extra punch.

Lastly, I want to point out a tool I use all the time — HARO or Help A Reporter Out.  HARO is a secret weapon I recommend to all of my clients to build their media presence.  In basic terms, you answer queries from hungry journalists and by positioning your responses the right way, you can get quoted and interviewed in a variety of publications, tv, radio and blog sources. If you want to learn about how HARO works and how to use it to your advantage, read this article chockfull of good advice!

I write and speak often about free publicity tools and tricks, so be sure to follow me on Twitter @RobinSamora to learn more!

If you’re in sales, marketing or a public speaker interested in maximizing their brand and image, think about hiring a stylist.

Your initial reaction may be similar to my first thoughts. “That’s way out of my league and too expensive.”

The truth is, a talented stylist is worth their weight in gold – especially if you want to look and feel your best and command the room with confidence and style.

If (and when) you hire a stylist, be willing to be vulnerable and open to suggestions. Your wardrobe advisor and image consultant has been trained, not just in the fashion sense, but in what flatters your body type. What you see as faults, have been seen thousands of times by other stylists and studied.

And yes, there are solutions.Beautiful young stylist near rack with hangers

Your flaws can be minimized and your most attractive features accentuated with a stylist’s recommendations and guidelines.

Here are 5 Reasons to Hire a Stylist: 

  1. After you’re over the initial, OMG, I can’t believe I’m hiring a stylist, you’ll realize that a stylist is a spot coach — just like I’m a spot coach for PR, small business marketing and free publicity. A stylist helps their clients look their best and improve their image with wardrobe essentials. You are your brand wherever you go. So, look fantastic!
  2. A stylist looks at you with different eyes than you look at yourself.  A trained professional sees your assets, not the negative parts of yourself you want to blink away. Stylists have your image, lifestyle and brand in mind for how you want to show up. They have a strategy in mind and a plan. Follow it to get noticed.
  3. Love the fact that your stylist is connected.  They’ll hook you up with their A-list of resources, tailors and beauty folk. They’ll share their favorite store contacts and will call ahead to make sure you’re treated like a VIP. Guys, listen up. This includes you too. The secrets of stylists could save you thousands of dollars and time that you don’t have.
  4. Shopping can be as easy as you like. It’s possible that you’ll fall in love with your UPS or Fed Ex driver every day when they show up with new outfits. Feel weird about all the attention? Love yourself more and more as you look in the mirror and experiment with new styles. Imagine yourself in front of your audience with only two thoughts; how great you look and how much they want to buy from you. (Think positive, right)?
  5. A paid speaker or professional should look like the price they’re charging. Say you’re charging $2500 for a workshop. Shouldn’t your outfit reflect your expertise and the richness of your work? Heck, yeah. Step into your power and awesomeness!  Upgrade your look to be consistent with your talent, skill and offer.

I’m a fan of virtual styling and like to look at clothes on line because it’s relaxing.  Others like meeting their stylists at their favorite stores, or wherever they’re told to go. Every person and situation is unique.

If you invest in your education and mentoring, why not invest in your wardrobe and image.

Tie everything together for maximum impact.

After all, it’s your PR and marketing brand we’re talking about.

Secret #1: Thoughts from the Dressing Room

Become  “media  ready”  by  looking,  feeling,  thinking  and  acting  like  a desirable multi-million dollar brand — even on a shoestring budget

Action Items:   You are your brand, wherever you go. Do you give off an energy of certainty and impression of increase so people will want to know you? Make someone’s life better in some small way, every day. Live life fully. Step into your greatness and your brand.

Secret #2:  Get Your Brand On

Cultivate and position a winning brand image that includes bio, photos, signatures, media kits and more.

Look professional, branded, together and ready for business. The press will feel more confident that you’re a player. You are your brand, so act like one that’s in a successful business.

Action Items: Look at your photo – does it look like you now or your high school picture? Can a prospect recognize you in a crowded room? Do you have a signature on your email? Does it give a description of who you are and what you do? Do you have a bio that includes some fun facts, or a cause you really believe in?  Look at your website with fresh eyes. Is there a headline on your home page with a call to action? Are all the links working?

Secret #3 –  Learn the Lessons Momma never taught you about being social

Are there misspellings? What does your branding say about you as an expert? What does it say to the media?

Leverage the power of social media to reach and impress media partners.

The thought of social media can be daunting if you don’t understand it. You don’t have to be everywhere, and do everything. Which social media tools do you like? Whether it’s Facebook , Twitter or LinkedIn (or others), pick what you’ll use and start engaging your audience. Stop worrying about being perfect. Make an effort every day to promote your business. You can make an impact with 15 minutes twice a day.

Action Item: Every day in some small way take an active role in being an expert, or noted in your field. Need content? Set up a Google alert on your ‘topic’ or ‘expertise’ and collect articles to share. Comment on what’s going on in the news. It’s OK to be a contrarian and have a voice.

Use social media to share your expert opinion so the press, as well as your prospects and clients, can notice you. Share content. Compliment others. Be a part of a caring community. Consistency and frequency count.

Secret #4 – Get on the Inside Track

Be a Publicity Insider — Take advantage of free publicity opportunities from HARO – Help a Reporter Out  www.HelpAReporterOut.com. Help A Reporter out offers quality leads for people in all kinds of industries to get noticed in the media – radio, TV , blogs and articles. It’s published 3 times a day, and it’s easy and free to sign up and get emails in your inbox. Journalists, editors, reporters and producers will post their queries on HARO and you can respond to them and get recognized as an expert.

Take the initiative and put yourself out there.

Action Item: Sign up for a free HelpAReporter account and take the time to respond to their emails. Create a one page template to answer press requests. Don’t be annoyed by the press inquiries, think of them as your assistant sending you opportunities to build your business and your brand.

Secret #5 – Be a media magnet, first. Darling next.

Tell your story often and clearly to gain media attention. Practice makes perfect.

Create and launch media releases that tell a powerful, memorable story that demands attention and generates results. Look at what you’re doing in your business. What’s press worthy? Are you speaking? Have a new product or service? Create a media release and send to industry publications, local media, and established contacts. It’s the who, what, when and why of what you’re doing – and can be as simple as a new office location, workshop, product or service, or being featured as a guest expert. Be clear and brief in all interviews and press opportunities and offer ‘soundbite’ quotes. Reporters have limited time – so make sure you grab their attention.

Make it easy for the press to find you and keep your PR engine going. When journalists and bloggers begin to see you showing up in the news, they’ll be more apt to follow you.

Action Items: Make a list of 5 things that you or your company could write a media release about. Have video footage? Even better! You don’t have to win the Nobel Peace prize to be recognized.

Secret # 6 –  Pitch Don’t Bitch

Stop complaining about the lack of press and do something about it. Pitch your story idea to newspapers, radio and TV stations, industry magazines, niche newsletters and blogs. They’re always in need of material. It can be an idea you have tied to a holiday or special event, tips on how a new product or service is helping customers, a community service project you’re involved with or a local event.

When pitching the media, be brief, concise and to the point. Make your headline interesting. You never know who’ll pick up your story and where it may go. Even if it’s controversial, it’s still news! And news fades fast, so keep the momentum going. Be mindfully persistent, not a pest.

Action Items: Create a bucket of ideas to pitch. Make them short and sweet. Are you a newly published author? (Hint, an e-book counts). Are you a guest panelist at a prestigious event? Do you have a new way of doing XYZ that will make a difference to more than just you? Learn to pitch with perfection.

Secret #7 –  The Press are friends you haven’ t  met  yet

Relationships that matter take time. Identify key press contacts and build mutually rewarding relationships that last.

Make it a point to do your homework and keep your eyes and ears open to top reporters in your region or area of expertise. Press contacts move around a bit, so try to stay connected via social media and keep email addresses current. A savvy admin can help with this task, but ultimately, you’ll be the one to decide who you’d like to watch and follow.

Action Items: A stranger is a stranger till the first hello. Make friends with reporters you find interesting. Follow them on Twitter, and learn the fine art of retweeting. Introduce yourself at industry functions. Send a note that you liked their article and you’re a fan, even if you disagreed with their view point. Send a lead their way. Start the process of ‘getting yourself known’.

Getting noticed by the press is a journey not a destination, and every step and mention gets your name out there. You’ll get recognized as an expert if you promote your brand often enough, everywhere you’ll go. It all starts with a decision to confidently stand out from the crowd.

 

In her latest article, PR, branding and prootions expert Robin Samora shares proven and practical tips that can help entrepreneurs and other professionals get free publicity on HARO — which can in turn boost their credibility, generate leads and create sales.

Entrepreneurs, business owners, experts, gurus and authors who want to benefit from the best kind of good publicity there is – i.e. the kind that doesn’t cost a cent – can now read Boston-based PR expert Robin Samora’s latest article, and discover proven and practical tips for getting free publicity on HARO (Help a Reporter Out).

“Being picked up by HARO is a huge win that could lead to increased credibility, mind share, competitive advantage, website traffic, quality leads and, of course, sales, sales and more sales,” commented Samora, who is Principal of Robin Samora Inc., a Boston PR, branding and promotions firm that works with corporations, authors, entrepreneurs and experts nationwide.

Samora, who is featured in a success story on Blogging PRWeb‘s website, advises entrepreneurs and others who want to reap the rewards of free publicity to have an action plan that consists of five pieces:

1. Start with a strong media response that lists name, position, website address and company description in the first paragraph. Don’t bury this down below.

2. Keep the pitch short and to the point, and answer questions directly. Reporters, journalists and producers are looking for substance – not fluff.

3. Provide a link to important material and don’t include attachments. Due to malware and virus threats, they won’t be opened and the pitch won’t be read.

4. Use a standard press response template for every media inquiry — but be sure to customize the main message for each query.

5. Use the word HARO in the subject line and include the query title.

Samora also lays out her ‘rules of the road,’ which consists of essential Do’s and Don’ts regarding media etiquette. Some of these include:
* Communicate politely and professionally at all times
* Offer great content
* Be clear and concise
* Move quickly – time is of the essence.
* Stay on message
* Offer a strong, authoritative opinion

Samora further advises that over-delivering in an interview is a wise strategy, and that building a database of reporters is a must. She also emphasizes that respecting the relationship with reporters, journalists, producers and the other professionals who are on the other side of HARO is vital.

“No matter what,” concludes Samora, “respect the connection and the relationship as you would with a trusted colleague or your very best customer.”

Samora’s full article, which features a deeper look at her free publicity action plan and HARO `rules of the road,’ is available her firm’s website at: http://www.robinsamorainc.com/2013/03/proven-tips-for-getting-free-publicity-on-haro-help-a-reporter-out/

For more information or media inquiries, contact Robin Samora at (617) 921-3448 or Robin (at) RobinSamoraInc (dot) com.

About Robin Samora Inc.
Telling a story is personal. Sharing it is an art. Technology makes it global. Robin Samora Inc., a Boston based PR, branding and promotions firm blends all three to take its clients’ businesses and brands to the next level. With clients like Comcast, WBZ-TV and Blue Man Group, and a roster of authors, entrepreneurs and experts nationwide, the firm prides itself on being a “Promotional GPS” that takes its clients’ brands where they want to go to be seen, heard, engaged and remembered. With over two decades of experience, the firm is as comfortable on major media highways as it is on out-of-the-way niche back roads.

Publicity is good. Free publicity is even better. And it’s also easier to get than you think, provided that you know where to start, have an action plan, and grasp the “rules of the road.”

Where to Start

This part is simple. Start at HARO (Help a Reporter Out) at www.helpareporter.com. Three times a day, HARO sends its subscribers no-cost media opportunities in selected fields, such as healthcare, business and finance, education, entertainment and media.  It’s an essential PR resource every entrepreneur, business owner, expert and author should know about.

HARO is one of my favorite sources — and not because I’ll be featured on their website in an upcoming success story. It’s because HARO provides a media-rich collection of publicity opportunities for experts across the world, as well as a fast-paced forum for journalists looking for source experts (a.k.a. you).

Without question, for an entrepreneur, author or guru of any kind, being “picked up by HARO” is a huge win. It could easily lead to being quoted in an article or report, or featured in a story, blog or book. It could also lead to radio and TV interviews – which means more credibility, mind share, competitive advantage, a rush of traffic to your website, your phone ringing off the hook, your email bursting with inquiries, and most importantly: sales, sales and more sales.

Your Action Plan

There are five pieces of a successful HARO action plan:

  1. Start your media response strong. List your name, position, website address and company description in the first paragraph.
  2. Keep your pitch short and sweet, and answer questions directly. If a journalist or producer is interested in your story, he/she will email you back.
  3. Provide a link to important material in your email – don’t include attachments (more on this below).
  4. Create a standard Press Response template that you can use for every media inquiry. Use the same intro and conclusion/call to action for most responses, and customize the main message for each query.
  5. In the subject line, use the word HARO and include the query title (e.g. HARO: Why HARO users have a PR Advantage).

“Rules of the Road”

Knowing the “rules of the road” will make or break your HARO efforts. There’s a fairly strict code of media etiquette, and playing by the rules is important.  Here’s a snapshot of what to do – and what not to do.

Do’s:

  • Do communicate in a polite, respectful and focused manner. Reporters will respond in-kind.
  • Do provide great content. Reporters get hundreds of pitches daily. Make it easy for them to say “yes.”
  • Do ensure that the body of your copy is clear, concise and concentrated.
  • Do move quickly if a reporter wants your help. Time is of the essence.
  • Do stay on-message. As with any marketing, this is the only way to go to reach your audience.

Don’ts:

  • Don’t include an attachment, because of malware and virus threats.
  • Don’t beat around the bush. State your opinion (more on this below).
  • Don’t bother with a “catchy” headline. Save that for your media releases.
  • Don’t try and negotiate deadlines – they’re firm at HARO and there’s no wiggle room.

Standing Out in the HARO Crowd

Once you get the hang of HARO and follow the “rules of the road,” interest from reporters should follow. But then you’re faced with another challenge: how do you stand out in the HARO crowd, and become a sought-after source? Here are some bonus tips that can truly put you over the top:

  • Without going off-message, over-deliver in your interview. You’re being consulted for your expertise and experiences. This is the time to share what you know.
  • Reporters need and want sound bites and opinion. So while it’s fine to be reflective and fair, you aren’t being asked to describe an issue or a trend. Reporters can figure that part out themselves. They want your opinion. So have one, and be prepared to share it.
  • Build a database of reporters by being friendly, helpful and to the point.

And most importantly…

  • No matter what, respect the connection and the relationship, as you would with a trusted colleague or your very best customer.

 

One night, quite late, I visited my local Border’s bookstore.  I was looking for reference material on Confidence and Charisma for an upcoming tele-class.  Most of my lesson was thought through, but being a book junkie,  I wanted more scientific data. After all, is it true that confidence and charisma can be part of your DNA?  My listeners would want to know!

Lucky for me, I had the help of a wonderful Store Manager, Dan, who spent the last 15 minutes of his shift concentrating on my project – in fact, right up to the 10:00PM closing hour. For a slow Monday night, I probably raised his store’s GNP. I purchased four books, all business related, and promised to read every one of them in the next coming month.

While I was checking out, I introduced myself to Dan and told him who I was, what I was doing, and asked if there were ever opportunities for speaking engagements at Borders.

I followed up, about six weeks later in person, and again by phone. Then, by a proposal, bio, and photo – an electronic press kit of sorts.

Next month, on May 17th I have a speaking gig at Borders.  And, it will be customized to Border’s request, but also based on my expertise.

I’ll have six weeks of free publicity and promotion from Borders, and my team will be supporting me — preparing press releases, Facebook postings, and Tweeting about my talk.

One late night visit to a book store.

One opportunity to, “just ask”.

What are you asking for?