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With all of the aspects offered by the internet and social media, getting publicity for your business is not only attainable, but affordable. — Getty Images/golero

Most businesses would love to see their name published in the New York Times or Washington Post, or make an appearance on Good Morning America. Unfortunately, that kind of media attention doesn't always come easily – or cheap: The average public relations agency charges about $125 per hour, and monthly retainers often start in the low thousands.

If professional PR services simply aren't in your budget, there are plenty of affordable DIY methods for getting your own press coverage. Here are four low-cost PR tactics for small businesses.

1. Sign up as a HARO source

Kailynn Bowling and Nikki Carlson of ChicExecs emphasize the importance of becoming a "go-to credible source" in your industry. They recommended signing up as a source on Help a Reporter Out, better known as HARO.

Journalists post dozens of queries per day on this free platform seeking expert sources for the articles they're writing. Pay attention to the daily HARO digest emails, and when you spot an appropriate topic, you can send your thoughts and insights to the journalist for consideration. You may not always have your answer selected, but the more reporters see your name in their inbox, the more likely they are to remember you for a future article.

2. Publish thought leadership content

While answering HARO queries is certainly an effective way to cement your status as an industry thought leader, you can also share your expertise through original published content.

Many business leaders write and self-publish their own thought leadership content on a variety of platforms, including their own blogs and LinkedIn and Medium accounts. You can also sign up to become a contributor on reputable publications like Entrepreneur, Inc., Forbes, Harvard Business Review and Huffington Post. If your pitches are approved, you'll enjoy high-authority backlinks to your website from these prestigious media outlets.

Whether you self-publish or write guest articles for other sites, these efforts will establish your authority on a particular subject.

Today's vast array of social media platforms and online groups offer businesses a wealth of opportunities to contribute to the larger conversations happening in their industry.

3. Submit your company for business awards

From Forbes' "30 Under 30" list, to Glassdoor's "Best Places to Work," to the annual Best in Biz Awards, there are countless organizations that publicly recognize exceptional companies and entrepreneurs. Whether they're through local or national media outlets, professional organizations or industry leading corporations, these business award programs are highly publicized and often attract press attention to their nominees and winners.

Do some research on large- and small-scale awards that are open to all entrepreneurs, as well as those that are specific to your industry. Understand the criteria they're looking for and take a look at what helped past winners secure their titles. If your company seems to be on par, submit yourself for consideration.

4. Join online conversations about your industry

Today's vast array of social media platforms and online groups offer businesses a wealth of opportunities to contribute to the larger conversations happening in their industry. As entrepreneur and communications expert Corinne Card writes on The Digerati, no matter what your story is, "there will be a number of engaged, online communities ready to help amplify your cause and bring it to a wider audience."

Professional communities on LinkedIn and Facebook are great places to start, but you can also offer advice on forums like Quora and Reddit, participate in Twitter chats and join independent small business communities like Manta or Startup Nation.

All of the above methods for getting press will cost you little more than your time. It certainly takes effort, but the more often you put your name out there, the better chance you have of being recognized and amplified by your target audience.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

Published May 10, 2019