There are proven ways to get free PR for your business.
Don’t worry if you don’t have the dollars to hire a top PR agency – you can bootstrap your media coverage with a few simple tactics.
In this blog, we’ve listed 28 of the best in one epic list.
Plus we break our 28 tactics down into four simple categories so that you can be armed with free hacks for the different areas of Public Relations.
- The Best Ways To Get Free Media Coverage
- Use Your Content As Free PR
- How To Build Influence On Social Media For Free
- Use Your Network And Events To Get Free PR
We’ve already shared our list of best public relations examples, but here’s how you can do it all for free.
(Note – if you’re still at the stage of asking what does PR stand for? Read this first.)
Up to speed? Let’s go.
The Best Ways To Get Free Media Coverage
1. Help A Reporter Out (HARO)
What: Just as its name suggests, Help A Reporter Out, is a nifty platform that gives you the opportunity to become a source for journalists already working on stories.
Why: Although there are plenty of people vying to get their attention, reporters often find themselves short on sources for the stories they are writing.
So HARO allows them to ask for insight into various topics and people like you can respond with expert answers. It’s a win-win for both parties, and a great way to develop a relationship with a key person of influence.
If you are successful, they’ll name you and your business in the piece – and hopefully, give a backlink to your website.
How: HARO sends out emails with a list of topics, once you see one that you can offer help with, click on it and say your piece. This is where it’s a great idea to have your messaging, USP and pitch honed so they’ll pick you above the rest.
2. Newsjacking: piggyback on national news stories to get coverage
What: Spot news stories in national papers and become the local expert.
Why: Free PR is all about creating great stories that will drive home the core messaging of your business.
If you spot a national news story that you can add valuable insight on, follow it and find your angle.
In doing so, you can take the news that is nationally or internationally relevant and position yourself as the local expert in it.
How: Keep an eye on the headlines and when you spot a story that would work, act fast. For example, a story about a drop in A-C exam results in A-Level students could achieve follow-up press.
So, if you are a counsellor who specialises in helping students manage exam stress, this would be a great time to offer your insight.
3. Write your own press releases like a pro
What: When you pitch your story to a reporter, you need to send it in the expected press release (and boilerplate) format.
Use this guide to know how to find someone’s email so you make sure you get to the right journalist.
Why: A well-written press release helps the journalist by giving them an angle, all the information they need and extra details about the subject.
By doing this, you save the journalist time and make their lives easier, and they’ll be far more likely to publish it.
How: We’ve created a press release template that gives you the format you need and a guide to how to write a press release. Download it, practice with it and then use it every time you pitch.
4. Become a thought leader and make a name for yourself
What: Position yourself as an expert in your field – and regularly comment on the big stories in the media. To get a deeper understanding of what is thought leadership read this quick guide.
Why: Thought leadership is being known by the media as an expert on your niche. You become an industry voice, commenting on issues and stories that matter to your business sector.
Thought leadership is a sure fire way to build a strong reputation, helping you reach new audiences and increasing trust with those that already know you. I
It’s a powerful tactic to get people to gravitate towards you and your business – and eventually, buy from you.
How: Let the media know that you are there and why they need to hear from you. Learn how to write a media pitch and then send your local news desk comment on big stories, pitch yourself to your local radio station to appear on a talk show or publish articles on social media.
Tip – get some media training and sound like a pro.
5. Offer an exclusive story to one publication
What: If you have a really exciting and genuinely newsworthy story that belongs to you alone, you can offer it to one publication exclusively.
Why: This tactic will work brilliantly if you have a story that’ll engage a big audience and one that would appeal to lots of media outlets.
By offering an exclusive, you demonstrate to the journalist that you see their publication as the most important and the place that the story best fits.
If you are right, they will love the chance to beat their competitors to the story.
How: Once you’ve crafted the perfect press release for your story, explain in your email pitch that this is being offered exclusively, so the journalist knows it is only with them.
Make sure you’ve done your research so that you’re a good fit with their news stories or with feature story examples and then you’ve got a much better chance of success.
6. Be personal and get a reporter’s attention
What: Find a unique and memorable way to send your product to a reporter.
Why: Please remember that journalists are inundated with press releases and you have to work hard to capture their attention.
Some people recommend using a paid press release distribution service but we prefer a more creative route.
If you can send your product to them, with something eye-catching like a handwritten note or personalised item, they are more likely to pay attention. But, remember if they don’t respond, don’t ask for your product back!
How: Launching a perfume company that helps customers create their own scent by choosing their favourite flowers?
Design a personalised scent for the beauty editor of your target magazine and send it over with a small bunch of the flowers you’ve used. It’s a great way to make it personal to them and impress them.
7. Take great pictures and never send a press release without one
What: You have no idea of how many great stories have been rejected because they don’t have a decent photo to go with it.
Why: We live in a visual world and that means your carefully crafted words won’t do the job all on their own.
When you develop a story to pitch to the media, think about how that story can be expressed visually. What can you use to give the reader context, emotion, and demonstrate the angle?
Make sure the picture is hi-res so it can be used by journalists both online and in print.
How: Here’s an example. Got a new electric wheelchair that helps disabled people get out of their houses and to the pub to join in their weekly quiz?
The picture you send needs to tell that story. So, it’s going to involve the person (the heart of the story), the wheelchair (the product), the pub (let’s put in context) with a pint in their hand and they should be amidst a quiz team smiling directly at the camera (the emotion of happiness).
When the reader looks at the picture, it should tell the story and intrigue them to read on.
8. Get to know your industry publications
What: Every industry or sector will have publications – whether in print or online – specifically reporting on them. You need to know what yours are and have a quality media list.
Why: Getting to grips with your trade press will help you in two ways.
Firstly, you’ll keep up with the news and innovations you need to know, and secondly, you can get to know who writes about your sector and what they focus on.
These are vital bits of information for building your PR Plan, so when you do pitch, you do it perfectly.
How: A simple Google search should reveal most of the information you need, but if you are frightened of missing one, pop over to online newsagents and browse their selection using the industry filers. You’ll have your list in no time at all.
9. Make a contact list to die for (and keep updating it)
What: Build a list of journalists, vloggers and influencers to engage so you can get your business in front of new audiences.
Why: The greater your network, the greater your influence.
Get your story shared by respected journalists or social media creators then you’ll be in front of thousands of new potential customers.
Yes, you need a budget to do influencer marketing, but if you give them a story they can’t refuse many are open to more authentic relationships.
How: Start off by making a simple list of all the media platforms and influencers – online and offline – that are connected to your industry.
Make a note of the names, email addresses and phone numbers of each person you think might be worth approaching. Reach out or pitch to a new person each week so that you are constantly building your network.
10. Get on podcasts and reach a whole new audience
What: Podcasting is a fast-growing content medium that reaches big audiences when done right. You know what podcasters need? More guests – and that’s your in.
Why: It takes some research, but you need to find out which of the podcasts out there are aimed at your target audience.
As a guest on a respected and popular podcast, you’ll be able to speak to loads of people at once.
After that, you can repurpose that content all over your digital marketing, and get useful backlinks from the podcast website (make sure to ask!).
How: Find and listen to the podcasts that are relevant to you, work out a good angle for your guest appearance and then contact them with an offer to appear.
Showing knowledge of what they do in their episodes will show them you are serious and want to fit in as part of their content.
11. Use ‘Awareness Days’ calendars to your advantage
What: All across the world there are days of significance, special interest or awareness that you can build a free PR story on.
Why: Publications love awareness days because they act as a short-hand for the reader and give context to a story.
For example, if you want to showcase your new product line of garden spades, it’s a good idea to leap onto National Gardening Week and try to get an interview with a horticultural influencer about using it.
How: You’ll find handy calendars that mark special days of interest all over the internet. Find the days relevant to your business and plan some content around them.
It’s a good idea to plan ahead and make sure you send the story at least a week before to ensure it reaches the report in time for them to plan it in.
12. Set up your Google Alerts (and never miss a mention again)
What: Don’t have time to trawl through social media management tools? Just set up Google Alerts on various names and words and you’ll get notified each time.
Why: You don’t want to miss out on a chance to find out the latest news or comment about your industry.
Google Alerts are designed to keep you in the loop for free, and you can create as many of them as you need.
This helps you to identify trends, key people of interest and topics that could be leveraged for free PR. You can also have them for your competition, so you can see what’s being said about them, or what they’ve got to say.
How: Just go to Google Alerts and start creating the ones that matter most to you. Be selective and targeted, so you don’t end up getting pinged for stuff you don’t need to know.
13. Show people ‘how to’ do something
What: By creating ‘how to’ guides pertinent to your industry, you can build up some great evergreen content that will be useful time and again.
Why: The whole point of free PR is to create a connection between your brand and your target market, and that involves building trust.
By creating pieces of content that show people ‘how to’ do something, you empower them and help them fix an issue. In return, they’ll begin to trust what you say and develop loyalty towards your brand.
How: Create a page or post for your ‘How to’ download on your website. Make your guide clear, answer all the potential queries you think the user might have and offer them a call to action at the end.
14. Become a guest blogger on other business sites
What: You can reach a whole new audience simply by offering to write a guest blog for somebody else’s website.
Why: Don’t just broadcast to your own network when you blog, try to reach other people’s too. It’s hard to keep producing content, so for many influencers, businesses or professionals, having content created by somebody else that will resonate with their readers is a win-win.
How: Be targeted about who you guest blog for. You need to find people who offer companion services to yours or operate in a market that makes sense for you.
Some platforms regularly accept guest submissions and have published guidelines on what they are looking for. Before to check these out before you submit.
If they don’t make it clear, take a look at the style and voice of the publication you want to write for and create an example piece (or two) to send the editor. Make sure it would fit seamlessly onto their site and ask for the chance to keep writing content for them.
15. Leverage your database to showcase interesting trends
What: if you have a significant customer base who behave or purchase in an unusual or interesting way, use the date to create a survey.
Why: Journalists love surveys. They are a great, accessible way to make credible observations about behaviour.
Not only will interesting or surprising results start a debate, but your survey and therefore your business will be credited each time it’s written about.
How: Use your data wisely. If you suddenly realise the demand for your product is on the up, find out the numbers.
Once you’ve got a set of interesting figures, write it up as a survey and get it out there. You can also survey your audience and publish their findings – do this online, via email marketing, or even when they come into your office.
16. Create your own library of great content
What: Use the content on your website to reach new audiences and position your business as a market leader, ahead of your competition.
Why: When you send a story out to somebody else, you risk them diluting or changing your message. In your own content, you make the rules.
Your content should be helpful, showcase your expertise, be engaging and memorable and provoke a reaction.
All these things will increase the chances of the reader sharing what you have written, helping you reach a whole host of new customers.
How: Create five attention grabbing headlines of subjects that are relevant to your business. Under each heading write five topics or questions.
Once you have this, then check the search volumes of people looking for the content. Even if you think people want to read it, don’t waste your time writing it if no-one actually is.
If you know people are searching for your topics then you can create a piece of content for each one and begin to build the library you need to grow your business.
17. Make content that could go viral
What: Create a piece of content that gets shared across the internet and reaches a huge number of people.
Why: You cannot buy this kind of publicity because viral content helps you achieve global recognition in record time.
Viral content often involves humour or outrage, so work out how to feed your key messaging into that. It’s a challenge, but when it’s done well, boy does it pay off.
How: Got any cats? Just kidding! Cat videos definitely rule the internet, but you don’t have to keep it feline.
Think about how to be funny in a way tons of people will connect with and then ask everyone you know to share it. You never know what might take off.
How To Build Influence On Social Media For Free
18. Answer questions on forums: being helpful wins business
What: People all over the world are asking questions on online forums about your industry – be the one to give the answers they are looking for.
Why: Consider the last time you had a problem with your computer, didn’t know what to do and went online to find answers.
If a local computer repair shop answered that question, gave you some free advice and then offered to do the repairs you need, it’s likely you’d take them up on their offer.
You can do exactly the same thing for people suffering the pain points that your product or service solves and win business.
How: Never hide that you are selling something, but deliver useful, honest advice and don’t be afraid to give some of it away from free.
Not only could you impress the person asking the question, but others on the forum will notice you in action too.
19. Follow online hashtags and join the conversation
What: Right now there are lots of hashtags being used on Twitter, Linkedin and Instagram that are connected to your business. Get involved! Make sure you have a winning LinkedIn headline and know how to post an article on LinkedIn.
Why: Contributing to an online chat about your industry helps you to strengthen your reputation as a thought leader and hashtags allow you to see what topics are causing the most buzz.
Once you know what they are, you can contribute to the conversation and also create content that deals with those subjects on your online platforms.
How: Make a list of the hashtags you want to follow and use the search bars in each social platform to find the latest posts and most popular discussions about your industry.
Don’t forget to use the hashtags when you post stuff online too, so others can find what you’ve written.
20. Go ‘live’ at networking events
What: Use the video feature on your smartphone to post live updates at networking events and introduce your digital network to the people you meet.
Why: This is a great idea for two reasons.
1) video gets excellent engagement online and shows you are out there doing things.
2) by involving other people, you should get shared on their social networks too.
How: Be generous. Don’t make it all about you. The live broadcast is a great chance for you to introduce the people you meet and tell people what THEY do.
If you are willing to do that for them, they’ll be far more inclined to recommend you to others.
21. Use your local Facebook groups
What: Facebook is an excellent resource to connect local businesses to their local market.
Why: Community Facebook groups allow people to share information, recommendations and knowledge.
If you are savvy, you can become a trusted name in your local group and build a reputation for helping people out.
Once you’ve done that for things that don’t involve your business and made some connections, you can begin to offer what you do too.
How: The next time people need to know the bus times, a local plumber or the best nail technician in town, give them your recommendation.
From then on you can keep an eye on people who need what you offer. The best way to leverage this is to get other people to recommend you.
So, drop a quick DM to some of your frequent customers and ask them to tag you in their post.
22. Ask your customers for Google reviews
What: Google reviews are one of many different forums for customers to publish their honest thoughts about your service. Ask satisfied customers to use them.
Why: Social proof is one of the quickest ways to overcome an obstacle to purchasing. These days, you can’t afford not to have a great Google rating.
When a customer searches for you online, make sure the Google search brings up kind words from previous customers. It’s a great way to show that other people are raving about your business.
How: Ask your customer to you review you on Google in person first.
Then send a follow-up email with the link to posting a review for you.
Make it as easy as possible for your customers to complete the review – tell them just clicking 5 stars is great and a sentence or two of praise is even better.
Use Your Network And Events To Get Free PR
23. Nail your one-sentence pitch (and make it value driven)
What: Do you know how powerful a concise pitch that clearly explains the value you bring to your customers is? Spoiler alert: It’s more powerful that a room full of Avengers.
Why: People have short attention spans so you don’t underestimate the free PR value of being able to explain exactly what you do and why it matters in a quick pitch.
Once you’ve honed and developed this messaging, it’ll be your best free PR friend at networking events and other face-to-face marketing communications opportunities, as well as online.
It helps people grasp the concept of your business fast and nothing is more important than that.
How: Start by identifying the main pain point that your business solves and keep it simple.
For example, mine is ‘’I teach entrepreneurs, small business owners and marketeers, how to do their own PR to get their message in front of millions.” What’s yours?
24. Use existing events to get free exposure
What: There are tons of events out there, ones that have spent thousands on PR and will have dedicated hashtags. Go to them.
Why: If you attend an industry event or any kind of relevant happening, you’ll get to mingle with interesting people and give your take on the whole shebang.
If you are smart and using social media hashtags to log your attendance and provide insight and commentary, you’ll reach a wider audience because the events already have their own following.
How: Find local and national events, attend and post updates from them. Make sure you use the official hashtags and feel free to tag in relevant speakers or delegates too. That helps you reach a new and significant audience.
25. Stage a free event of your own
What: You don’t need a big budget to host your own event, you can do something clever and cost-free if you put your thinking cap on.
Why: You want to build a community of people who know your business and will either buy from or advocate for you.
A free event invites them into your orbit to do something together and should help you remain memorable (for all the right reasons) long after it’s done.
How: You need to think laterally on this one. You could be the personal trainer who runs a free-to-attend litter picking run every other Tuesday night.
That’s brilliant as it’s a chance for people to exercise together and do something good for the community. A free PR gem of an idea.
26. Work your network
What: Everybody you know is a potential PR person for your business – so make sure they know who you help and what they might need help with.
Why: Make sure your family, your friends and people in your wider business network are crystal clear on your business and how you help people.
Talk to them about the pain points you resolve for customers because every time they are out in the world, they will potentially meet somebody who needs what you are selling.
How: When you chat to people in your network, give them examples of customers you help and make it really easy to spot them.
Give them business cards, online links and even a fact sheet about your company – you never know who they might be able to pass it to.
27. Help a good cause by using your expertise
What: There are many ways that your skills could benefit charities or community groups, so offer some pro bono help.
Why: Doing pro bono work is a great way to generate free PR. You’ll be able to demonstrate your expertise and showcase your work in a safe setting, and you never know who is paying attention.
How: Think about causes close to your heart or charities whose work really resonates with you.
Think about how you could help them to reach more people or any practical assistance they may need.
Every time you do something, write about it and ask the charity to share it on their social channels too. It’s the sort of free PR that does you the world of good.
28. Enter local business awards
What: The business community in most places will have a host of dedicated awards to celebrate local companies, so get involved with them.
Why: If you win an award, you’ve got proof the somebody significant rates you. You can’t buy that kind of social proof.
For potential clients, it’s an endorsement they can trust and you can leverage the publicity around your win for years.
How: Find out the awards that run in your community and how to submit an entry for consideration. Even as a nominee, you’ll be able to use the prestige of the awards as PR in your content.
Free PR: an invaluable way to market your business
So there you have it, 28 ways to do your own PR for free.
And if you’re ready to take your PR work to the next level grab our PR Starter Kit.
Our must-have kit has every template, script, strategy and guide you’ll ever need to do all your public relations jobs.