It is absolutely crucial that you properly leverage public relations to grow your business. Utilizing sound PR strategies helps make others aware that your company exists, but what if you’re on a tight budget?
For those looking for cheap (read: free) tools to help get publicity, read on for our seven favorite free tools.
1. Product Hunt
The first tool is Product Hunt, a curation of the best new products across a seemingly unlimited variety of niches. Product Hunt surfaces the best new products, every day, and is the go-to site for product-loving enthusiasts to share and geek out about the latest mobile apps, websites, hardware projects, and tech creations.
It’s easy to add your own product to the collection, but this PR method should be combined with other marketing campaigns to reap the highest benefits. Gregory Koberger, founder of ReadMe.io, says, “Who knows if we’d be launched by now if someone hadn’t posted ReadMe.io for us.” Through the Product Hunt launch, ReadMe.io not only became profitable, but Koberger points out that “people I had emailed previously and got blown off by were now emailing me.”
A publicity tool available for free, Help A Reporter Out (HARO) is used by nearly 30,000 members of the media, including such heavy hitters as The New York Times, ABC News, and Huffington Post. Using HARO publicity alerts, companies can find out when reporters are looking for sources within their areas of expertise, and those companies can then find themselves featured in articles that attract thousands of pairs of eyes.
Jessica Welsch, from The HopeFULL Company, said, “Getting this kind of coverage is like winning the lottery. We have HARO to thank for it.”
Switch2Health had such amazing success that their pedometer was featured in Better Homes and Gardens. Owner Goutham Bhadri said the coverage meant that their “entire production run sold out in two weeks.”
This next tool is all about helping you manage email followups. We spend hours each day in our inboxes, but how do we know if the email we sent was ever read? This is where Sidekick comes in, a service provided by Hubspot to fit so well into the email experience you barely know it’s there.
The benefits, though, are immeasurable: every email you send is embedded with an invisible tracking image that reports back to Sidekick when an email is opened or a link in a message is clicked. This way, you know if your email has been read and ignored, or if it’s just been ignored. One user, who preferred to be named only as Scott L, called Sidekick “One of the best tools I’ve found for retaining new clients, and pitching new ones. It’s timely, on target and helps me organize my daily call and to do lists. Great app.”
Have you ever wanted to know more about the people in your contacts list, without having to Google them? That’s where LinkedIn’s Rapportive comes in, a free add-on for Firefox and Chrome.
Rapportive shows you everything about your contacts right inside your inbox. The information is pulled in from LinkedIn, so you can be assured that it contains professional details about your client or vendor. Ryan Huff of Cirrus Insight reported that “We loved how Rapportive gave people useful information quickly and did it without getting in the way.”
Brian Crane, founder at CallerSmart, uses Rapportive as a hack to find someone's email address. “There are only a few variations of an email address, so I try each one and when Rapportive returns information about a person, I know that I've found the right one,” says Brian.
If you spend more than 30 minutes a day in your inbox, you’re probably doing it wrong. There are a number of tools to help manage email, but few are as robust as Boomerang.
With Boomerang, you can expand on your Gmail experience with features like Send Later, which allows you to schedule an email to be sent automatically at the perfect time. Boomerang can also archive email messages that you don’t need to act on right away, bringing them back to your inbox when you need it.
Finally, Boomerang can remind you to follow up on a message if you don’t get a reply. Jen Clarke says, “I use Boomerang to make people think I get up early to write emails. (And also to sleep on things I’m not sure about)”
6. Google Canned Responses
Have you found that you tend to send the same email response to a number of people, over and over again? There are many tools to help save time on this, but here’s one that can be built straight into Gmail: Google Canned Responses.
Found in the Labs tab of your Gmail settings, Canned Responses allows you to compose an email message you’d like to use over and over again. Then, just click the arrow in the lower right-hand corner of the message window to save it for later use. When you compose a new email, you just click on that same arrow button and choose the canned response you want to send.
Last, but certainly not least, is PressFriendly. This tool helps you increase your response rates by improving your pitch. The story wizard built into PressFriendly has explanations and examples for every part of your pitch, and the editorial calendar helps you plan your press releases around hundreds of holidays, editorials, trends, and events.
Finally, PressFinder maintains a database of reporters and ranks them by how likely they are to be interested in your story. Simone Collins, founder of ArtCorgi, was incredibly impressed by PressFriendly: “Previously we had invested over $5,000 of our marketing budget in PR training, services, and methods that produced no results. PressFriendly was very useful in helping us articulate our message (even internally) and we were delighted to be connected to reporters who were interested in covering our launch.”
Each of these tools is either 100 percent free for everyone, or includes a free tier that can save your company hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on your PR efforts. The tools are all easy to use, and have proven benefits in marketing strategies.
What's your favorite PR tool?
(Picture credit via Pexels.)