How startups and small business can do PR on a shoe string budget

Tuesday 7 March, 2017

If you’re launching a new business or startup, your marketing budget is probably pretty small. That means just as your business is ready to take off and you need strategic communications support and advice, you can least afford it.

It’s a problem we come across regularly amongst small businesses. That’s why we launched a communications business specifically created to help small businesses with their marketing, digital and public relations(PR).

As a public relations professional, I often have people come to me and say, “Do you think this quote is reasonable?”. Sometimes the quote is to build a $20 000 website and other occasions, a $30 000 quote to create awareness and buzz for their brand. Let’s be honest, that’s very expensive. A $30 000 quote will quickly erode what limited budget a small business has and will probably put them into debt.

The reality is, you can create lots of buzz, word of mouth and high-impact branding on the smell of an oily rag. That is providing you’re willing to research, hustle or work with an affordable team like Comms Hub to help you reach your goals.

Because we’re all about helping people, we thought we’d share some useful takeaways to help you communicate better for a fraction of the cost.

Get specific

Before approaching a PR, Marketing or Digital agency, get really clear about what it is you actually need. Focus on outcomes to help you reach business goals and ask the firm to articulate how they are going to help you achieve them.

Instead of saying, you want to grow your Facebook audience, you should be more specific, specify that, you want to grow your Facebook audience by 1000 new likes and develop a strategy to convert your followers into customers.

A radio campaign or a glossy brochure is a sure fire way to erode your budget so be really specific about what you need and what you want to achieve. That way you can hold the firm to account.

Don’t tell a PR agency what your budget is

This is an important tip. Don’t tell a PR agency what your budget is. Trust us, it’s the fastest way to have them spend every dollar of your budget. Instead, make a detailed list of what you want to achieve, then ask them how to get there and then ask them to provide a quote.

It’s all about focusing on outcomes that deliver value rather than ‘activity’.

Build relationships

If you want to get in the media, you probably don’t need someone to do media pitching for you. After all, you are more passionate about your brand and ideas than anyone else so it makes sense for you to be the spokesperson.

Attracting media is not that difficult once you know a few tricks of the trade. Take two minutes to read about ‘news values’ so that you understand what drives the media and journalists. Find a publication (online or traditional media) that you’d like to reach out to and find their email address.

Craft an email that you’d want to receive, something that piques their interest and briefly tells a compelling story about why your news is interesting, unique and noteworthy.

When reaching out to journalists, say something positive and genuinely comment on a story they wrote recently. Journalists receive a lot of negative feedback so your email will stand out from the crowd if you are providing a compliment. Remember, PR is all about building relationships so put in the hard yards now and in a couple of months’ time, the journalist may contact you to be a spokesperson on a topic.

If you are going to use a PR agency to do pitching for you, focus on tangible outcomes i.e. who do you want to reach and will they buy your product?

Become a practitioner

If you want to learn how to use Snapchat or Instagram like a pro or any other application for that matter, log on and spend a half an hour studying it. That’s how most marketers learnt how to do it and you can too. Use it daily and become a practitioner. Study what brands are doing on the platform and what’s working for them.

There is so much written about how to use these platforms all you have to do is Google, ‘How to create an advert on Instagram’ and hundreds of articles will appear. You can save money by honing your skills and becoming an expert. This will position you for success in the future. 

The economics of the PR industry has historically been driven by long term retainers to help the agency cover their overheads. But that doesn’t have to be the way of the future if you be specific about your goals and ask the PR agency to be as lean as possible in the execution.




Amy Chandler

About the contributor:

My name is Amy Chandler and I'm the founder of Comms Hub, a digital marketing agency based in Adelaide. Comms Hub is committed to making digital, PR and marketing affordable and accesible for small businesses and startups. We're passionate about upskilling businesses with the skills to turbo-charge their communications. Website:

Post your comment


  • qwerty 13/09/2018 10:24pm (13 months ago)

RSS feed for comments on this page | RSS feed for all comments