4 Free PR Tools No Small Business Owner Should Live Without
Running a small business is one of the most exciting ways to earn a living. But with so many hats to wear at once, it can become easy to overlook important tasks that help drive the growth of your business.
Public relations – or in other words, press relations – is a prime example. Good PR has the potential to become a significant source of brand recognition and act as a primary sales reference funnel. And unlike advertising or marketing campaigns, which usually require you to spend up to thousands of dollars, PR is free.
With the right tools, you can successfully implement a PR strategy for your business with no budget and minimal time and effort. Here’s how:
HARO, abbreviated for “Help A Reporter Out”, is just that – a tool that lets you (literally) help a reporter out. But it can be used to help out your own business as well. An online service that sends out media queries via email up to 3 times a day, HARO gives businesses opportunities to connect with journalists looking for specific sources on upcoming stories. All you have to do is sign up to receive their daily email queries. An easy way to think of the service is like reverse story pitching: reporters ask for subject-matter help, and in return they give businesses a window to pitch their service or product if the subject-matter is relevant enough. Some tips for using HARO:
- Keep your pitches brief, but informative. Remember that reporters are on tight deadlines. Be helpful, but don’t send them 5 paragraphs of marketing jargon. Instead, answer their query requests as concisely as possible (and skip the BS).
- Don’t send attachments. HARO responses are sent through a separate third party portal, and attachments can fill inbox storage very quickly. If you want to provide additional content, include a link in the body of the email instead.
- An example of what a HARO query looks like:
Social media can be very time-consuming, especially when there are multiple accounts to manage at once. And we all know that regardless of business size or industry, there’s no escaping social media marketing. Cue Hootsuite, a social media scheduling platform that lets you create and manage editorial calendars in one centralized place. You can link up any of your business’s social media accounts and see engagement and content feeds in a single dashboard. There’s no reason why any small business owner should be spending more than a couple hours a week managing social media, and tools like Hootsuite make that possible. Some tips for using Hootsuite:
- Promoting an article or content your business is already mentioned in through social media is a great way to generate even more buzz. Remember the 80-20 rule of content and press strategy: 20% is the actual content, 80% is distributing the content.
- Social media is not just a channel to promote your product; it’s also a way to educate your users and inform them about relevant news in your industry as a thought leader. Keep social content balanced between company news, product updates, and relevant topics your customers will find helpful. This is also a good way to gain their trust.
- Use the “Suggestions” tool to post links from around the web that are relevant to your industry (without the hassle of doing the research). All you have to do is type in keywords related to your industry, and Hootsuite does the rest.
- Use Hootsuite’s URL shorteners when linking out, and then use the URL click stats tool to track which links are being clicked on. This will help you figure out what kind of content receives positive engagement from your readers.
Mention is a digital media monitoring tool that helps businesses track when and where their business is being written about. It can also be used for social media monitoring, brand tracking and influencer research. Mention monitors billions of sources across the web in over 40 languages in real time, meaning you always know when your company is being talked about. Good PR isn’t just about getting your business name out in the public; it’s about joining the conversation your business is already a part of, and Mention enables you to do just that. Some tips on how to best use Mention:
- Use the Favorites tool to filter out which mentions are worth responding to. Once you have gone through and selected relevant mentions, join the conversation by either adding valuable content in the comments section or continuing the dialogue by sending a friendly email to the author. Remember that a very important part of PR is building relationships.
- Create an organized system for compiling media mentions you receive through Mention. At the end of the month, take a look at the report and see if you can find any patterns related to the type of content and publication that your business is being written in. Use that insight to help craft a press strategy based on what you know already works.
The benefits of using Google Analytics are endless for small business owners on a budget. You can track marketing campaigns, optimize sales funnels from acquisition to retention, and even learn about customer demographics through segmentation sequences. The true benefit of Google Analytics for PR purposes, though, lies in its ability to track referral traffic. Any website or publication that links to your business will show up as a referral source, and from there you can look at page sessions, bounce rates, conversion rates and more. This insight provides invaluable information about where your potential customers are coming from, which means you can hone in on your PR messaging and target audience using actionable data. Google Analytics can be a bit tricky to set up, especially if you want to track traffic behavior coming into your site. Luckily, Google has tons of resources and support pages to guide you through everything.
Using these free tools can help you automate and streamline your PR strategy to help get your business that buzz that it deserves.