Boosting Your Brand on a Budget

Every college student knows the struggle of having an idea they want to bring to life, but lacking a budget to finance their idea. Even if finances may be low, your client’s brand doesn’t have to suffer from it. In today’s tech-based world, finding affordable ways to bring ideas to life has become easier than ever.

Know your audience.

Gaining global PR exposure isn’t very hard in this world; most of the time, it’s free. One Instagram post in Pennsylvania could reach thousands of individuals in countries around the world. Before you get ahead of yourself, you must backtrack and figure out your “why.” Identify what your end goal is — whether that is increasing engagement, driving sales, or even becoming an influencer of your own. Distinguish your media by figuring out your target audience. For example, if you’re targeting females between the ages of 18-30, you need to generate content that will entice this specific group of people to engage with your profile, blog, and more. Become an expert in what this age group relates to, create content pertaining to those topics, and push it out.

Utilize free design tools. 

With tools like Canva, anyone can become a graphic designer in minutes and create content for free. Search “Canva crash course” to see the thousands of results that will help you become a social media specialist. 

Build relationships instead of paying for advertising.

Another way to cut costs is to get rid of paid advertising. A few strategic hashtags pertaining to your product, idea, and organization can reach just as many people as that paid advertisement. One thing that PR has (that paid advertising doesn’t) is a real connection. When a paid advertisement goes out onto platforms, the creator doesn’t know who is seeing or engaging with it. PR is centered around the connections you make with your loyal and potential customers. According to PRSA, the definition of PR is “A strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their public.” 

The definition of advertising does not suggest anything about relationships or communication at all. Therefore, PR is what brings customers back, and what makes customers spread the word of your product. As stated by Ken Wisnefski, “publications buy stories, not products,” meaning the best way to gain traction is to craft a story that people can connect with. Creating a story will satisfy consumers by making them feel like they are a part of the brand. If you hook one person on your brand and they tell 10 people about it, then those people tell 10 more, your brand will have grown exponentially without you spending a penny. Once your consumers have expanded your reputation, your brand could get featured on larger platforms such as news channels.

Schedule your time. 

To make any profit in your brand, you must treat it as a paying job for a portion of time. Dedicating three to four hours a day to your brand reputation and online presence could make or break your brand. Here is an example you could use to help guide you as you dedicate time to your brand:

  • 1.5 Hours: Create new content and scheduling when they will be uploaded.
  • 30 minutes: Follow new and old customers as well as other brands.
  • 30 minutes: Reply to comments, questions, and liking posts.
  • 1.5 Hours: Reply to emails.
  • 30 minutes: Brainstorm new ideas, posts, future goals.

You know what people say: time is money. If you are only putting in a few hours a week to your brand growth, you cannot expect success. The best part about PR is you can make it your own and fun. Creating new goals for yourself every week can encourage you to put more time into your brand — even if that goal is as little as gaining 50 followers within the month. PR is an ever-changing field, so you must always be adapting alongside the evolution of PR.

Rosie DeFeo is a junior at West Chester University with a major in marketing and a minor is environmental sustainability. She serves as the director of PR for West Chester’s PRSSA Chapter. You can connect with her via LinkedIn.

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