No matter the size, every business can benefit from a good public relations and branding strategy. Of course, not every company can afford to spend the money it might take to launch a comprehensive PR and branding campaign.
Fortunately, you don’t need an enormous marketing budget to run a successful campaign. Below, 14 members of Forbes Communications Council discussed some low-cost and effective approaches to PR and branding strategies for companies on a budget.
Align company stories with larger issues that have broad appeal. For example, while at a midsize merchant service company, we set a $70,000 minimum wage for all employees. While this alone might have garnered some modest local buzz, I aligned it to the national conversation on income inequality. This provided media outlets with a fresh, human angle on a well-discussed topic. It was picked up by The New York Times, NBC News and Good Morning America. - Ryan Pirkle, FFW
Rather than focusing on mainstream media, pitch stories to relevant trade media. It usually takes less time and less agency budget, and you’re more likely to secure a story. Don’t get hung up on low readership numbers, since the audiences are exactly who your company is targeting. You can amplify these trade media stories to larger audiences through your owned channels. - Roohi Saeed, Samsara
A smaller business should be serviced as if it is a Fortune 500 company. I like to get my early-stage clients into top-tier publications to help them raise their visibility and funding quickly. - Donna Loughlin, LMGPR
Understand where your expertise lies and share it as a thought leader. Think about where your customers and clients take in information and find a relevant topic that can be pitched to these media resources as a valuable resource or editorial feature. From speaking on a podcast to being featured in a magazine, you can provide a unique point of view for moments that educate and inform your brand’s authority and image. - Carley Gauthier, Live Nation
Forbes Communications Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. Do I qualify?
5. Look Outside Of Your Niche Industry
Don’t focus on opportunities that only apply to your company’s niche industry. Volunteer to speak on any topic that humans find interesting to get the brand’s name in print. Even though my role is to promote Neat Loans as a digital mortgage lender, we had a team member get interviewed on the concept of “lunchflation” for The Wall Street Journal, which then turned into a video feature on Good Morning America. - Jen Farmer, Neat Loans
Be unique! It takes a lot of time and resources to create differentiation in a crowded space. Use different and bolder words in messaging, create a visually distinct style guide, use a punchy tagline and consider category creation. This drives greater brand recognition with the same level of input. Also, disruptive brands tend to garner more earned media, organic growth and viral spread. - Kelly Grover, Acoustic
Publish content that touches on your industry’s pain points and needs. This can take the shape of a report analyzing the results of a homemade industry survey, interviews with managers of existing clients, or an in-depth trends analysis. Promote it through owned channels and combine it with a webinar or roundtable. It takes some effort, but the returns (and leads) can be very much worthwhile. - Noel Ortiz, Aizon
For many startups, branding is the launching point for your PR and messaging strategy. The good news is that there are tons of resources (freelancers, branding templates, and so on) out there today that can help you find your voice. Once that’s done, you can amplify that voice by working with contractors who have PR contacts that will share your story. Amplifying your message doesn’t have to cost a fortune! - David Franzen-Rodriguez, Routefusion
Developing first-party data through customer surveys can provide you with unique and valuable insights into customer behavior and market needs. This data can be leveraged to pitch journalists to cover your story and how you address these needs. Creating an infographic with this data can allow you to get a branded image in the story as well. - Roshni Wijayasinha, Prosh Marketing
Measure your results and ensure that, whatever budget you are spending, there are tangible, trackable results. If you spend $100 or $100,000, and there’s no return on investment, the amount becomes insignificant. A little can go a long way, so think about what platforms you want to leverage, and when a strategy works, allocate more of your budget to it and iterate on what’s not working as necessary. - Melissa Kandel, little word studio
Create valuable content and build a position as a thought leader. Having smart people in your company share their expertise through articles, presentations, videos, and more is a great way to stand out as a leader in your industry. Whether it is using platforms such as Forbes Councils or volunteering to speak at industry events, there are plenty of inexpensive ways to get your content distributed. - Tom Wozniak, OPTIZMO Technologies, LLC
12. Start Local And Then Branch Out
Look for opportunities to post in publications or blogs. You can get good traction with publications for free as long as the topic is relevant to current interests, such as the “Great Resignation.” Be cautious with paid publication offerings. Also, get involved in the community and promote your CSR efforts on social media to show your commitment to caring for others. -Clay Tuten,KeyMark Inc
Newsworthy information that nobody has provided before can make a company stand out from the noise. Keep it simple, memorable and reusable in different formats, and invite all employees, partners and customers to amplify your content by making it easy for them to do so through social media channels. - Isabelle Dumont, Cowbell Cyber
Ride the wave of one of your larger partners. Connect with a partner on a joint marketing initiative that brings mutual value, and use their size and scale as a force multiplier for your business. -Cody Strate,The Upward Spiral Group