3 Places to Get FREE PR when you're just starting out
It seems that everyone and their mama is #obsessed with content marketing these days. Okay, okay, we are, too.
But while content marketing is great, it requires a lot of effort. I mean, if you’re going to take advantage of SEO juice and all the benefits that come with it, you’ve got to do a ton of research to find out what keywords to use, which headline is going to work better, your blogposts have to be at least 1000 words long. Yadda yadda yadda, you know the drill.
As someone who lives and breathes PR, I know that publicity can yield the same results (more clients, growing your audience, etc.) without the long, drawn out process of writing content. Let’s face it – not everybody’s a born writer. I’m lucky and I was born with the gift (and I also had to write and edit a thesis to get my MA degree), but if you’re not, publicity is a great option as it requires you to only write a few sentences – if you have to write at all – without having to pump out a thousand plus words.
Publicity also has an added benefit, and Jean-Louis Gassée sums it up better than anybody I know:
Advertising is saying you’re good. PR is getting someone else to say you’re good.
I love that quote because 1) it’s true, and 2) it genuinely changed the way that I saw advertising and marketing.
Marketing is still important (obviously), but social proof is always #1 in proving that you’re an expert. You can say that you’re great all the live long day, but when other people want to feature your story, thoughts, or products, that validates it in the way that nothing else can.
Think about it the same way that you would think about a testimonial: You could talk about your client’s results or add a portfolio item into your repertoire, but having your client share what truly makes you different and why people should hire you and not anybody else because of the experience or end product or transformation, that’s what makes the difference.
So, without further ado, here are my 3 favorite ways to secure free press for myself + our clients.
1. Help a Reporter Out
Help a Reporter Out is by far my favorite way to get free press. Run by one of the largest PR firms in the world, it’s a free subscription service that delivers queries from reporters three times a day Monday-Friday straight to your inbox.
There are requests for just about every industry and topic from government policy to entrepreneurship to what sex toy you’re loving at the moment.
If you’re a human being, you will be able to find something on HARO that will be relevant for you to reply to.
Journalists from the biggest publications in the world use this service – Personally, I’ve secured coverage in Nylon and Martha Stewart weddings, and a few other places on my media page through HARO and our clients have great success through HARO as well.
Every day, there are at least 120 requests sent out. At the end of the month, that means that you’d have around 2400 potential media opportunities delivered straight to your inbox for free.
If you pitched and were published in even 2 of those per month, that means that you work, thoughts, expertise, or products would be featured in 24 new media outlets with MILLIONS of new readers and potential audience members and customers at the end of a year.
You’ll regularly find requests from contributors who write for Forbes, Business Insider, Brit + Co, The NYT, Cosmopolitan, etc.
Pro-tip: You’ll want to sign up for the “Master” e-mail ONLY which has all of the queries for each e-mail. If you sign up for business, lifestyle, and general individually, you’ll receive three e-mails in the morning, three in the afternoon, and three in the evening, which – trust me, as someone who combs through HARO three times a day – leads to inbox overwhelm really quickly.
To sign up for HARO as a source (meaning: someone who provides a quote to a journalist to consider for their article), click here. You do not need to sign up with a paid account. We don’t even use a paid account, and we do this for a living.
2. #journorequest hashtag on Twitter
Bet ya didn’t know that Twitter is where most journalists hang out. Yep, it’s not just for meme accounts and rants by leaders of the free world. Journalists use the hashtag on the daily.
Twitter is where journalists share their latest pieces, comment on social, political, and cultural topics, andwhere they go to look for sources.
If you’re in the UK, #journorequest will be particularly helpful for you. While journalists from all around the world ask for sources in the hashtag, a large concentration are UK based.
Not from the UK? No sweat. Unless it’s specified that a source has to be from the UK, most journalists are happy to feature people who are international. If you’re not sure that’s the case, just send them a quick Tweet and ask!
Here is a small sampling of some of the requests that were recently posted:
If you have a story that you think the media should cover that is TOPICAL (ie: it’s currently Women’s History Month at the time of writing this, so any women’s issues will be trendy this month in the press), you can also use the hashtag to ask if there’s a journalist looking for sources in the area that you’re an expert in.
What you absolutely, should not, under ANY circumstances do is post that you are looking for brands to collaborate with or free hotel stays or product request opportunities. That’s NOT what that hashtag is for, and it can be enough to blacklist you with some journalists. There’s a special place in hell for people who use the #journorequest hashtag wrong.
3. Source Bottle
Similar to HARO, Source Bottle sources requests from journalists all around the world who are looking for sources.
If you’re looking to be included in an anthology or break into the book world, this is also a great place to find some of those requests.
If you’re from Australia or New Zealand, you’ll find this site particularly helpful.
One thing to keep in mind is that some of the requests have country restrictions, so you’ll want to be sure to pay special attention to those BEFORE you respond to a request.
Unlike HARO, where responses are needed almost immediately, a lot of the requests on source bottle aren’t due right away, so you also have a longer lead time to reply.
Pro-tip: If writing is really a struggle to the point where writing a few sentences is difficult for you, Source Bottle may be the ideal place for you (or, you know, use audio dictation on your phone to speak your answer and then just do some light editing for clarity).
There are various types of media on SourceBottle, not just TV or print/digital publications.
As you can see, getting free press for your business doesn’t have to be difficult. I’ve just shown you three places that you can secure free press in just a few minutes a day.
The key is consistency. You can sign up for all the services in the world, but if you don’t actually open the e-mails and reply, you’ll never be featured!
Which of these sources for securing press are you committing to for the next month?