PR Resources for Startups that Are Free

Kate Lobel
By Kate Lobel

Finding free public relations resources can feel like finding gold. You know the gold is out there. You’re not exactly quite sure where to begin the quest for it. And if you do seek it out, it is sometimes difficult to discover the authentic bits amongst the rubble.

Let’s take a gander of public relations from a startup’s standpoint. You hold the creative reigns within the company. You know it would be best to hire a PR professional, but it’s not practical right now. So, you try and dig deep from your Ad and PR 101 course from college. Unfortunately, all you can remember are a few of the basics that your teacher would droll on about during her dry, 8 am lecture.

Right now, your company is a small ship, but you know you’re strong enough to manage the waves until you are ready to build on.

Considering you are handling the sails on your own, it would be beneficial to have some resources that could help guide you in the right direction without having to worry about dipping into the funds. There is a treasure trove of tools that can assist you in almost all of your PR needs. Discover these gems below.

Writing & Researching 

You’ve totally got this. And if you don’t, here are some resources that provide you with capable people who do got this! It’s important to know your target audience, what makes them interested, and why they’d want to hear what you have to say. Then, take all of that researched information and have it delivered it in a way that the target audience would best perceive it.

HARO

You can call it your “hero” if you’d like, though. HARO stands for “Help a Reporter Out” and it does just that. This website holds an extensive “database of sources for upcoming stories and daily opportunities for sources to secure valuable media coverage”. If you go ahead and sign up for the free basic plan, HARO sends media opportunities from journalists looking for case studies for their stories right to your inbox. According to their site, highly reputable media outlets such as TIME Magazine, Chicago Tribune, Fox News, ABC, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal all use HARO. Entertainment media outlets such as Mashable and Refinery29 also are on the list.

General Exposure 

There are blogging sites out there where other businesses can discover startups. An interest may spark from your posted company and turn itself into a  story.

Google Alerts

Create alerts through your Gmail account and receive daily, weekly, or monthly alerts advising you when your personalized brand name or topics are relevant in the news. Google will email you whenever anything related to your keywords pops up in the news across the entire globe. This is helpful when planning your media calendar. Discover when is the best time to strike.

StartupTunes

This is a review blog for startups. This site specifically focuses on businesses with “outstanding design” and “paradigm shifting ideas”. You simply submit your company for consideration along with a one hundred word description.

TechCrunch

According to Forbes, TechCrunch is “the gold standard for startup PR”. They are recorded to bring in 10 million unique visitors a month. Of these 10 million include influential reporters, entrepreneurs, and investors. Users on TechCrunch review startups for the visitors’ consideration. Furthermore, TechCrunch hosts a database of companies, entrepreneurs, and investors on a site known as CrunchBase. The two sites are independent when signing up, however. Finally, without a strong network base, getting chosen by an investor on TechCrunch is slim. It is important to build your network to help you stick out and stand strong. With all of that support, you may gain the attention of investors within TechCrunch, which could gain your company attention at a national level.

Connecting 

Networking in the new-age. You’ve got some written gold. Now, off to find a way to let it unfold! Discovering how, when, and where to send to the who’s-who’s.

Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn

Although this may be a Captain Obvious introduction, social media is as free as free gets. People use these channels to influence followers without even trying in some cases. So, when you install strategy, thought, and action into your posts, they can have a powerful impact on your desired audiences. If your time budget accounts for it, try and make waves with influential people prior to launching a writing piece or PR campaign. Making genuine connections with influencers is important because you do want them on your side when the time comes to release a story.

Word-of-Mouth

Make sure your network is nurtured. Social media plays a huge roll in this section, as well. Your interaction with your followers and vice versa dictate how often (or how little) the rest of the world may be exposed to your company’s existence. Other than your social media accounts, your true clientele accounts are your best source of advertising, as well. Check in on clients and they’ll be more inclined to recommend or introduce you to their network.

PSFK

PSFK covers trend reports ranging from branding and marketing to fashion, gadgets, entertainment, and food. PSFK pulls in more than one million readers every month. PSFK accepts completed press release entries via email. You can submit a press release to submit@psfk.com.

WooPitch

Use WooPitch to gather journalists’ details and contact information through their social media outlets. This tool collects the information and puts together a powerful database. Their motto is, “Simple, intelligent targeting for smarter PR,” and if that’s not a hook, what is? WooPitch identifies and connects with expert sources to find journalists and bloggers to target.

PR Hunters

PR Hunters is one heck of a time saver. To use PR Hunters, simply choose personalized keywords and relevant topics. PR Hunters uses that information to send daily alerts from journalists on Twitter.

PitchRate

PitchRate serves daily alerts to your inbox consisting of connections and media opportunities. You begin by joining as a journalist or an expert. If you sign up as a journalist, the main feature that PitchRate contributes is finding credible sources for your piece. If you join as an expert, PitchRate discovers free coverage. In either case, PitchRate connects you to relevant professionals and people via LinkedIn, Facebook, Google Plus, and Twitter. Credible companies such as The New York Times, Yahoo News, TIME Magazine, Inside Business, CNN, Woman’s Daily, and The Wall Street Journal are all known to have participated in PitchRate.

Cold Calls

Yes, cold calls can be a little old school and rough around the edges. This option requires an elevator speech that you can roll through quickly over the phone. After the 2 to 3 sentence pitch, ask the reporter to consider a press release.

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Editing 

You’ve made your connections and written your writings. Don’t let your tale fall short. Before you send out content, make sure it’s grammatically correct. You’ve made it this far, don’t sink now!

Grammarly

Blunders-a-billion are a thing of the past. Honestly, you should receive a reward in some way if you can manage to get a mistake past this editing site. The basic usage of this tool is free; however, there are certain features that need an upgrade in order to experience them in full. Even so, Grammarly puts in work to make sure you don’t have any spelling or grammar faux pas. Grammarly has recently implemented a feature within it’s program where you set personal goals. These goals help them better understand the context of your content. In other words, Grammarly learns your writing style and how to edit it accordingly. Furthermore, not only can you submit your writing right into the blank space on the site, but you can also download a little toolbar widget that scans over your screen to make sure that even your emails send out in tiptop shape.

Hemingway Editor App

Let’s take a lesson from the pros, shall we? (Full Disclosure: It would be poetic to keep this description short and sweet — as Hemingway would want — but there are too many awesome features about this site to not give it the colorful description it deserves.) This tool is similar to Grammarly, but geared toward those hyper-organized, color coding, highlighter people out there. Copy and paste your work into the site and watch it form a rainbow before your very eyes. The Hemingway App uses colors to highlight sentences that reflect a code associated with the issue — and it gets deep. For example, blue means you are “meeting the goal of 2 or fewer” adverbs in your sentence. Did you ever even think twice (or fewer) about that before? It’ll highlight sentences in red if they’re too difficult to read. To the side of the ROYGBIV, the Hemingway Editor App counts your words, determines how long it takes to read through, and develops an overall readability scale. These aspects guide you to create a piece that becomes easy for your desired audience to digest.

Cliche Finder

Cliche Finder sticks to the absolute basics. Even the website is bland and extremely easy to navigate. Press Releases are meant to provide facts and get to the point so that busy journalists can grab the information and run with it. This site extracts the fluff from the content and let’s you know where you seem to be over doing it.

Put Into Practice 

So, you’ve done the research, writing, connecting, editing, and sending. There are a few ‘next steps’ to prepare for, once that is all completed.

Marketing Materials

If publications grab ahold of your stories, be ready to send them whatever marketing materials they’ll be looking to add along with the story. Forbes suggests to “rework a few lines to highlight aspects of your business that will be most appealing to the specific writer or publication where you are sending the release”.

The Old Fashioned Follow Up

Make sure that whoever holds the information has everything they need. Follow up and offer any additional angles that could help get the story told with the brand identity in mind. While following up with publications, don’t forget to follow up with past clientele, as well. Check in and ask for reviews. And, didn’t your mother ever teach you manners? Throw a ‘thank you’ message in the mix, as well.

In any competitive market, getting your company noticed is imperative.

No one strives for their company’s business to go under just from the lack of exposure, especially startups. These free PR resources keep your startup’s head above water.

At the moment, hiring a PR professional may not be a luxury you have, but that’s alright. Being a cost-effective startup is the wave to ride and there are plenty of resources on your side. You are still capable of getting the attention you want by using a more targeted approach. This saves time and energy instead of reaching out to everyone’s contacts that you can get your hands on. Knowing your audience and creating direct connections are always important. Communicating with writers who share similar interests can become an opportunity for mutual growth, as well. The more you learn about what other people like to read about within your field, the better you’ll be able to communicate your messages to them.

Kate is the director of Public Relations at Power Digital Marketing with an extenisve background in traditional media relations and digital marketing with the goal of bridging the gap between brand awareness and ROI.