As a startup, you must find ways to make yourself successful. With so many companies pushing their products and services, you need to be able to stand apart. One of the ways to make your company more successful is by engaging in media outreach. If no one knows you exist, how do you plan to make any sales?

Hiring a public relations firm can be expensive. If you are like most startups, you are bootstrapped and don’t have a huge marketing budget. When that’s the case, there are several things you can do to get more media coverage without spending a fortune.

Here are three methods to get you started

1. Create your own news through blogging

You are the best source to get your message across to potential customers. While others are waiting on press coverage, you can simply create your own. Many overlook the power of blogging as a way to get your message out there.

There are two types of blogging that can help you spread the word: writing articles for your website and guest blogging.

The first of these is a no-brainer. There are many reasons why you should write and post articles on your website, but there is one in particular that goes hand-in-hand with media coverage.

“Blogging also helps you get discovered via social media,” writes Corey Wainwright, in a HubSpot post about blogging for business and marketing. “Every time you write a blog post, you’re creating content that people can share on social networks — Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Pinterest — which helps expose your business to a new audience that may not know you yet.”

In addition to social media, it also gets you noticed in the media. After all, if HubSpot hadn’t been blogging about this topic, I would not have found them to quote in this article. Make sense?

You should also become a guest blogger on websites within your niche. This helps you get the word out about your business while at the same time giving credibility to your expertise.

Find websites that journalists use to get information for stories (such as industry websites – an example would be Tech Crunch or Tech Cocktail for the tech industry).

If you haven’t already figured it out yet, Alltopstartups is a great place to write about your startup.

Become a regular contributor to these sites to help establish yourself for the next method of getting media coverage without spending a fortune.

2. Use free media outreach services

Believe it or not, there are a few services out there that allow you to get free media coverage. One of the most popular is Help-A-Reporter-Out (HARO). Here is the concept.

There are journalists who are writing stories and looking for quotes and expert tips to include within. The only problem is they don’t have the time to search out these people to include in their article. HARO allows journalists to list their stories and enables experts to come to them.

It is a free service so you only need to create an account with an email and password. You will receive daily emails with information about articles being written by journalists. If you have the expertise to help them out, simply log into your account and make your pitch.

While HARO is one of the most popular of these services, it is not the only one. Here is a list of some of the most widely used:

There is an art to pitching journalists through these services. Make sure your pitch is about them, not you, and you will increase your chances of being featured.

3. Doing your own media outreach

Doing your own media outreach is not that hard. It can save you money and help build business relationships.

“Media outreach is all about relationships,” writes Mike Wood, in an article about developing a media outreach strategy. “It is more than just firing off emails to publications, going through contact forms, and making an occasional telephone call. Doing your own media outreach will save you money and also lead to new business relationships.”

Becoming your own public relations firm takes a little time, but it saves you a ton of money. Here are some steps you can take to craft your story and pitch journalists.

When reaching out, it is highly advised to start local. Local press coverage can result in word of mouth marketing which will quickly spread the word about your business. It is also assumed that you are more familiar with local journalists than you are national press. Plus, there is a higher likelihood of receiving press coverage as a journalist can simply drive down the road to visit you in person.

Develop your story. Without a story, why would people want to talk about you?

You must know who you are and what you are about. If you don’t have a story to tell, then no one will be able to say anything about you. You will want to sit down and write exactly what you are about and what sets you apart from your competition. It must be interesting enough to grab the attention of a journalist.

So how do you develop the contacts?

Finding contacts is all about business networking. Search the internet for publications that have written stories similar to yours. If you are a startup, then look for publications that talk about startups. Are you in the tech industry? Then look for tech publications. Look for writers who contribute regularly to those publications and then reach out with your story.

Following up is as important as your original pitch.

Journalists are busy. Don’t expect them to respond immediately. They receive dozens of pitches each day so you will need to follow-up regularly to make sure your pitch didn’t get buried in the pile.

Final word on affordable media coverage

Thanks to the digital revolution, many changes have taken place in how media outreach takes place. You are most certainly welcome to hire a public relations firm to do the work for you.

They have established contacts and will save you time while telling your story. However, there are a few ways that you can obtain media coverage without spending a lot of money.

Start a blog and become a regular guest blogger on other websites. Use free media outreach services such as HARO and do the outreach yourself. Regardless of what you try, always remember that you need media coverage to help get your startup off to a smashing success.

What is your experience with doing your own media outreach? Any other ideas on how to obtain media coverage without spending a fortune?

Bill Ecksel is a graduate of the University of Michigan and has been a journalist for over 10 years. He has written for numerous local and regional publications and is the Chief Editor for Industry News Corp. He has written on many topics over the course of his career but is currently focusing tech and startup companies.