Do you need to promote your business, but don’t have the marketing communications budget to sustain an advertising campaign? Generating publicity – or public exposure – in the media is a highly effective way of getting more people acquainted with what you have to offer. The aim of publicity, of course, is to generate such interest in what you do that newspapers, magazines, radio and TV stations feature you without you having to spend a cent on airtime or column inches.

Hang on a Moment! Is Publicity Free?

Unlike advertising which is directly paid-for, publicity is ‘free’. Publicity is referred to as ‘below-the-line’ promotion, while advertising is considered to be ‘above-the-line’ promotion. This terminology is derived from Accounting, and refers to where the costs get assigned on the balance sheet. So, while you don’t have to pay for advertising space or airtime, working a publicity strategy will incur some indirect costs

There are plenty of innovative ways in which you can generate free publicity for your business.

Here are 25 Publicity Ideas to get you Started…

  1. Have a great product – products which are innovative, made in a unique way, fulfil a unique need or are in line with new trends are more likely to catch the attention of the media.
  2. Deliver great service – think about how often you talk about positive or negative service experiences to your contacts. Delivering service that’s out-of-the-ordinary is an easy way to generate word-of-mouth publicity, in the form of recommendations and endorsements.
  3. Build your Rolodex – keep on file the names and numbers of anyone who could pull strings to get you free publicity. Make an effort to stay in contact with each one.
  4. Design an unusual logo – have a logo launch and ask for people’s interpretations of your logo. Quote their comments on your website and social media profiles, in a press release and in marketing collateral. Watch your logo become a talking point.
  5. Write a tantalising tagline that gets tongues wagging – memorable slogans stick in our minds and are more likely to be quoted or repeated.
  6. Create a captivating email signature – more than just a way to sign off a message, your email signature is an opportunity to communicate your brand message. Include your name and contact details, your logo and tagline, links to your website and social media profiles and links to any recent publicity.
  7. Search engine optimise your website – not only must every business have a website, but it must also be optimised for search engines. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the use of techniques to make your website more searchable by search engines, in order to drive more traffic to your site. One way of increasing your site’s SEO is to include searched-for keywords in your web content.
  8. Make your website media friendly – always-on-deadline journalists use the web extensively to research stories. Posting information that a journalist would find useful could mean the difference between being quoted or referenced in a story, or not. Include web pages detailing your company history; corporate social investment projects; press releases and press clippings and the contact details of your media liaison person.
  9. Add an RSS Feed to your website – an RSS feed will allow journalists who subscribe to this facility to have new information delivered directly to them, without them having to actively visit your site.
  10. Keep a blog – not only are blogs an excellent way of increasing traffic to your site – search engines love fresh content – but journalists and other bloggers may pick up on your posts, commenting on them or even publishing content from them.
  11. Write online press releases – in addition to issuing standard press releases, create search engine optimised press releases for distribution online.
  12. Create social media profiles or fan pages for your organisation – the most popular social networking sites on which you should have a presence are Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
  13. Upload videos to YouTube – YouTube gets over 2 billion video views a day. With that kind of traffic, shouldn’t you be showcasing your brand in action?
  14. Do website polls and surveys – journalists are always scouting for little nuggets of interesting information to use as a hook in the leads of their stories. If a journalist stumbles across a quirky poll or survey on your website, you may be referenced in their story.
  15. Send newsletters to your media contacts, too – they may spot something in the content that they can use for a forthcoming story, or which prompts publicity queries.
  16. Get some publicity shots – Every publicity hunter needs a good, clear head-and-shoulders photo, preferably taken by a professional. The media is a superficial being; and whether an individual is worthy of media coverage often comes down to how they look in print. Post at least one publicity shot on your website.
  17. Develop media kits and distribute to media contacts – these are informational packages about you and your company. Your media kit should include a letter of introduction, company information, products and services information, press releases, press clippings, your publicity shot, and perhaps a token giveaway item or product sample.
  18. If you operate in a nîche area or have specialist knowledge, approach your local newspaper and suggest that you write a column.
  19. Offer freebies or a competition giveaway to a publication’s readers or radio station’s listeners
  20. Identify speaking engagements where you can appear as a keynote speaker
  21. Keep a brag file containing press clippings in your reception area for visitors to browse through
  22. Sponsor a local sports team or sporting personality – Enlist him or her to make appearances at special events or to do speaking engagements.
  23. Get involved in community work and/or align yourself with a non-profit organisation or charity
  24. You never know when a publicity opportunity may strike –Prepare an elevator speech so that you can pitch your organisation, products and services to anyone, anytime, anywhere.
  25. Follow up on every publicity pitch you make or publicity enquiry you receive!

Need more publicity ideas?

Read these publicity books

Public Relations for Dummies (2nd Edition), Eric Yaverbaum, Ilise Benun, Richard Kirshenbaum (For Dummies Publisher)

Free Publicity: A TV Reporter Shares the Secrets for Getting Covered on the News by Jeff Crilley (Brown Books Publishing Company)