One of the cheapest ways to market your business is to take
advantage of the many opportunities that exist for free or low
cost public relations. The exponential growth of the Internet
provides constantly expanding virtual public relations
So how can you capitalize on it? First, let's be clear. This can
make a tangible difference to your business. I recently wrote to
the excellent e-mail discussion "SpeakerNet", asking for
experiences about the use of Web sites for marketing. Here are
some of the comments that I received about the public relations
"My Web site has allowed my articles to be published in many
national magazines, such as Presentations, T&D, numerous
newspapers and industry publications. My free articles have are
downloaded by over 50,000 people each year from over 60
countries." - Lenny Laskowski, http://www.ljlseminars.com/
Richard Thieme's site, at:http://www.thiemeworks.com/ has
received numerous awards, including both a "Hot Site of the
Day," and a "Cool Site of the Day" from USA Today. Readers
forward Richard's weekly column, "Islands in the Clickstream,"
to numerous friends and other online discussion groups. Richard
receives frequent requests from many different countries to
republish the column, for which he charges a reprint fee. So,
although his original articles are available for free via his
Web site, they are highly leveraged into other media, and
Hopefully now you are inspired to look for free PR
opportunities, and ready for some practical tips.
Integrating your PR message
One key factor is that your total message and corporate image
should be consistent both in the real world and online. Used
effectively, public relations activities in the traditional
media can draw traffic to your Web site, and conversely,
articles on your Web site can generate business. Jesse Weeks
told me: "For each article I print, at least one inquiry for
services results, often many."
Therefore a cardinal rule is to keep the look and feel of your
Web site in line with your printed materials. Your Web site is
your online press kit. As David Arnold says: "I have my company
logo is prominently featured both on my Web site and printed
materials. As soon as my package arrives meeting planners
connect it with my site, and that in turn reminds them of our
phone conversation, reducing the common "Hmmm, who's this from?"
or "Gee, where have I heard this name before?"
Promote your articles!
If you have any published articles, (or even unpublished ones),
consider putting each one on a separate page of your Web site.
This has several advantages:
* it plays to the Web philosophy that "content is king", and
showcases your expertise and the breadth of your knowledge
* you can construct keywords and descriptions specifically for
each article, and promote them individually in the search
engines. This allows you to further differentiate yourself, and
significantly improves your chances of being found online.
For example, I recently discovered from my access logs that my
Web site was receiving many hits from Sweden. I checked all the
Web sites that currently link to mine (which I had neglected to
do for a while), and discovered that an article I had written
about effective online research techniques was being cited as a
resource for a course at the University of Uppsala!
Searching for Web links can be done in Alta Vista by entering
link:yourdomain in the search box, e.g. link:CyberSpeaker.com
I have noticed that a number of Web sites state that visitors
may request articles that are not immediately available. For the
reasons explained above, I am not sure that this is the best
tactic. It may be a great way to get leads and build a mailing
list, but it doesn't help your visibility.
And while we're on this subject, don't just put the plain text
into your site exactly as it is on paper. The article should be
formatted so that it reads well on the screen, and has good
navigation both within the page, and back to other areas of your
Online press releases
There are ever expanding numbers of newspapers, newsletters, and
e-zines (electronic magazines) online, and also reporters
looking for stories. Since Web sites have to be constantly
updated (even more than in the real world), they are hungry for
A great resource for finding appropriate places to send press
releases is Mediafinder. This site can be searched under
numerous different subject areas, geographic locations, etc. It
provides Web site addresses, e-mail contacts and media kit
Remember when sending an e-mail press release to follow some
* not all e-mail readers can display formatted text, so stick
with plain 10pt Courier, and keep your line lengths to 60-80
* be sure to include your contact e-mail address and Web site
URL in a prominent place, and make sure that you have a great
signature file (the piece of text that appears at the end of
every e-mail message). It should be brief, but contain your
name, company, one line about what you offer, telephone, fax,
e-mail and Web site address. Your e-mail program should help you
to create this, unless you are using America Online (where you
can cut and paste)
* use a "knock their socks off" subject / headline, such as
"Internet Benefits For Business Discussed On Web Site Broadcast"
- not just "Press release" to entice the editor to read your
* don't "spam" reporters (i.e. blitz your e-mails
indiscriminately). Send your release to targeted and appropriate
Some real world rules also apply here. Don't bombard the editor
with e-mails asking why your piece was not accepted. But if you
do make it into "print", perhaps a real card to thank the editor
is a better marketing ploy than e-mail (and I don't often say
Caryn Amster picks up postcards on vacation and uses them for
media thank you notes. Why a postcard? Because everyone in the
newsroom sees it, wonders why someone is sending a card from
Disney World to the newsroom. One card gets a lot of mileage.
Press release Web pages
There are some major advantages to using press releases on your
(or others') Web sites. You can include:
* hyperlinks to related stories, or further background
* sound and video clips to enhance your presentation; and
* buttons to access your release in different languages (great
for international speakers!)
You can also easily track where your press releases are
published and how many people read them. If they are included on
your site, you can find this information from your own access
logs. If you submit press releases for other publications,
consider using different e-mail contact addresses for each.
Often your Internet Service Provider will supply multiple e-mail
boxes as part of their Web hosting service, which is a great way
to quantify your responses.
There are several Web sites that allow you to submit free press
releases under a number of different searchable categories. Two
such sites are: PRWeb and Webwire.
Online Radio Shows
In addition to "print" publications, there is an increasing
number of "online radio shows". In fact, Yahoo! has a whole
category devoted to them.
The shows are generally broadcast in "Real Audio", or a similar
program. This is software that is free to download and easy to
install on your computer. The "streaming audio" is heard as it
comes to your machine, so you don't have to wait for the whole
clip to download before you can hear it.
Again, these shows are looking for content and guests. The
Yahoo! listing often includes each one's subject matter or
focus, so you can identify appropriate targets for your message.
So Do It!
Other than an investment of time, and some research savvy, all
of the opportunities outlined in this article are free. You
don't need to have a Web site to pursue many of them (although I
believe that it enhances your visibility and credibility if you
Public relations is an area that most of us can take better
advantage of. So venture into Cyberspace, and "PRofit from
Copyright, Philippa Gamse, 2000
About the author:
Philippa Gamse, CyberSpeaker, is an internationally recognized
e-business strategist. Check out her free tipsheet "Beyond the
Search Engines" for 17 ideas to promote your Website:
http://www.CyberSpeaker.com/tipsheet.html Philippa can be
reached at (831) 465-0317 or mailto:pgamse@CyberSpeaker.com