Don’t fall into the trap that membership organisations have to spend big on public relations activities in order to get talked about or known. There are many things you can do which don’t cost a penny (or at least not many) yet will still help you spread the word about what you do.
Whether your membership organisation is large, small, new or been around the block a while, every penny in your PR budget has to work hard and give you a return. You may not see instant results but don’t let that fool you into thinking that free / cheap is not effective. Public relations is a slow-burn so remember that doors opened now may yield a return in the future, but not necessarily just yet.
Here goes with my favourite top ten tips for free / low cost PR ideas …
- Put yourself in their shoes – where does your target audience go? do? read? listen to? Don’t waste time and money being where they are not.
- What is your USP? – what makes you different from your competitors? Don’t just be another face in the crowd.
- Be an expert – write articles and get them published. Register on www.expertsources.co.uk and www.findatvexpert.com. You represent an industry / profession so you have lots of topics to provide expert comment on.
- Sell the sizzle not the steak – highlight the benefits of what you do, not just explain what you do.
- Freebies – offer something for free to let people experience how they will benefit from being a member. For example, a networking event, newsletter, free webinar.
- Testimonials – third party endorsements are worth their weight in gold so shout about what your happy members say.
- Case studies – these are expanded testimonials and allow you to demonstrate how you solved a particular problem. For example, a campaign that helped to change legislation which benefited members or the industry they work in. These make what you do ‘real’ and people can see how they fit in with what you do.
- Social media – set up profiles on, e.g. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram. Start connecting and engaging with members and potential members. Remember to apply what you found out when you put yourself in their shoes (point 1. above).
- Network – people buy from people so get out there and meet people. Attend industry events, business networking groups, conferences, exhibitions, etc. and talk to current and potential members.
- E-mail signature – include your contact details and a short sales message or link to something you want to promote at the end of each e-mail.
My top advice to reduce your public relations spend is to Stop & Think before you commit any money. There may be a free or cheaper alternative … effective PR and marketing does not have to cost a fortune