Digital PR on a budget: How to get awesome press links for SMEs

Corinne Card, co-founder of Full Story Media and Coverage Class, gave a brilliant presentation at April’s BrightonSEO which is totally on-topic for so many of The Digiterati’s clients and subscribers. We’ve used a number of this tools and techniques ourselves and ended up with mainstream news and even TV coverage as a result!

Here’s her guest blog post on the topic of her talk and a video of the talk itself:

If you want to get awesome press and links for your company, and you don’t have the luxury of a big business budget, perspective taking can be your secret weapon.

Perspective-taking can be powerful. Social psychologist Adam Galinsky explains that, when I take your perspective, and I think about what YOU really want, you’re much more likely to give me what I really want.

And what do other people want, that can lead to you getting great press and links for your business?

Well, journalists want articles which are newsworthy, suited to their readership and, in many cases, ready to publish. Consumers, meanwhile, often want to see their own work and personal stories championed in the press.

If you can use the narrative, expertise and resources available to you through your business to give others what THEY really want, you’ll be able to get the press and links your company deserves. But how can you give them these things? Here are five tools which will help you use perspective-taking to earn press and links, without the need for a big business budget.

Tool 1: Photos

One thing journalists want, and many marketers forget, is photos. Pictures can determine story selection and dictate the media agenda, and there are a number of ways small businesses can use them to get press.

Firstly, get a photoshoot. Your company will have a story, or a number of stories, that will be interesting to the press. But a photoshoot will help you to tell, and to sell, those stories. Get some photos of your founders which help to illustrate what your company does. And if you sell something tangible, get that thing in the photo, too. Illustrative photos with energy and interest will help you get press for years to come.

Secondly, get consumers to send you high quality images, for example by running a photo competition. These can be used to put together news stories about the competition, encouraging further entries and linking back to the entry form on your site.

And, if you do sell tangible products, get photos of these on a white or transparent background. Because everyone: news, magazines and blogs, loves to publish gift guides and buying guides. But you need to know when publishers are looking for products to feature in their gift guides, and this leads me to tool number 2.

Tool 2: Response Source

Response Source is a service I’d recommend every small business invests in. Journalists use the service to send out queries about articles their writing, and businesses and PR people can send over information and get press and links in the process.

And you need to become an expert at responding to press queries quickly and effectively, giving the journalist exactly what they want.

Think about the request from their perspective: when they send it out, they don’t know if they’ll receive one reply, or hundreds. So, if you can be first, and reply within the hour with exactly what they want, you have a much higher chance of getting noticed and getting press.

Also think, from their perspective, they need to be able to justify why they’ve chosen you to quote as the expert. So give them an interesting, relevant quote, and give them and their readers reasons to believe you’re the expert.

Mention well-known clients, awards and other achievements in brief, and in a way that can be published directly ahead of the quote you’ve provided.

But sometimes, you’ll want to be proactive about getting press, thinking for yourself what journalists will want and when, and providing them with just the right content, at just the right time, by skilfully predicting the future. This leads me to tool number three.

Tool 3: Predict the Future

Many sites will highlight upcoming events and awareness days, so you can plan out content which will be available to journalists when they’re looking for content about those special days. But one way to get ahead of the competition is to look for the events other people might not have spotted.

When a new law was planned, which was relevant to a client of ours, we looked everywhere but couldn’t find the date the new law was going to come into force. We got in touch with the relevant government body and found this out, before it had been published.

By doing this, we gained more time than our competitors to put together a media package that would be irresistible to the press. We thought about the consumer, and what they would want to know on that date.

With one, simple image, we made the details of the new law much easier to digest, and we ran a one-question, multiple choice Google Survey to find out how many people could be in breach of the law if they carried on doing what they were doing.

The image and the results of the survey were published by dozens of sites, including ITV. But in carrying out original research, providing a well written story and offering a high quality image, we’d also made use of tool number four.

Tool 4: Write the News

Another way to take the perspective of the press is to think about what they’ll need to publish your story, and to provide them with the whole package, all ready to go.

The first thing you need is a story.

If you want the story to be published by news sites, it has to be ‘NEWS’ – it needs to have a ‘hook’ that makes it NEW.

News stories work best if there’s something surprising about them, if they include fresh, verifiable statistics, if they’re about something people CARE about, and if there’s a news ‘PEG’ – something big, that’s already happened, or is happening, and that relates to your story.

Examples of potential news ‘pegs’ for 2018 include the Facebook / Cambridge Analytica story, Bitcoin, AI and the royal wedding.

You also need to think carefully about how to get your link included. Because for a journalist to include a link, it’s not enough that you want one in there – they’ll need something called ‘editorial justification’. They need to be able to justify the link from the perspective of their typical reader.

So, take that perspective, and provide something on your site that’s both relevant to the story and genuinely useful to the reader. It could be further information on the topic of the story. But it could also be something they can register for which they will value, or a competition they can enter.

But, what if you include things in your story which accidentally put journalists off using it? We found out, first-hand, what kinds of things really aggravate journalists in 2018 – the things we could train businesses to avoid to increase their chances of success with the press. You can read the full list in our blog post: 130 ways to annoy a journalist.

Once you have interested journalists ready (who you’ve avoided annoying), a good story, photos, perhaps even fresh survey results – how else can you get more attention for your cause on a budget? With tool number five…

Tool 5: Online Communities

The final way to gain more press and links on a budget is to make use of online communities. Because whatever the topic of your story, there will be a number of engaged, online communities ready to help amplify your cause and bring it to a wider audience.

Kyra Warrell, age seven, was born with one leg shorter than the other. It causes her a lot of problems, and the difference between the length of her legs increases as she grows.

As the issues increased, doctors recommended amputating the shorter leg so they could use a better fitting prosthetic. But Kyra didn’t want that. All Kyra ever wanted was to have two feet flat on the floor, just like all her friends.

Kyra’s parents searched far and wide and finally found an Israeli surgeon who could lengthen her leg, but the family would need to raise fifty thousand pounds in two months to pay for the first stage of surgery.

With no budget for the fundraising, we had to help them build awareness on a budget. As it turned out, online communities would be key to this campaign’s success. Because while the story gained momentum, so did support from online communities, who made up a huge number of the donators.

As the donations increased this, in turn, improved the level of press, until the story became international news, as well as being published by the BBC and national newspapers in the UK.

In February, Kyra flew to Israel, and the surgery was successful, meaning she’s now on her way to having two feet flat on the floor, just like all her friends. Here’s some more about our campaign for Kyra.


Digital PR is possible on a budget, or even with no money at all. Use these five tools and you’ll be able to get big business press, and links, on a small business budget.