Get Creative and Hit a Publicity Home Run

Get creative and give some thought to lower-priced or free alternatives to traditional media spending.

Here are 11 quick ideas:

1. Support local sports. Many companies promote amateur or children's teams, and in return the players, coaches and parents wear T-shirts with the firm's name and logo and advertising is posted around the field.

2. Get social. Make judicious use of social media, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. These sites can be your organization's free advertising to the local community with announcements of sales. Pay careful attention to privacy settings and post information wisely.

3. Adopt something in the community. For example, check your state transportation department for an "adopt-a-road" program. In return for clearing roadside trash a few times a year with your staff, your company's name is plastered on large road signs in view of thousands of motorists a day.

4. Sponsor a blood drive. You provide the space and the local Red Cross organization does the rest. In many cases, you'll get free radio and newspaper ads.

5. Place discount ads. Small suburban newspapers often need extra display ads to finance large or special sections. Negotiate a long-term contract at a discount. Or track the revenue your ad generates and pledge some of it to buy more ads.

6. Publicize your staff. Most small newspapers also have community bulletin-board columns in their business sections. Notify the business editor every time an employee gets a promotion or completes professional course work. Those are free pops on the business page.

7. Tap local newsletters. Consider advertising in school newsletters or in bulletins published by places of worship. Often, they accept a small number of ads and you're likely to find a loyal audience.

8. Magnetize your brand. Are your employees making deliveries in unmarked cars? For a modest fee, you can have removable magnetic signs made. By placing the signs on the vehicles, they can become rolling billboards during the day and convert back to private cars at night.

9. Produce your own video or TV show. Have your most telegenic staff members put together a how-to video on YouTube or a show on a local cable public access channel. The show should highlight your company's expertise. YouTube charges by the number of views the video receives. Airtime on the local community channels is free, although you generally have to pay a minimal amount to rent the camera equipment.

10. Hit the party circuit. Offer to run a concession booth at a community festival or event. Your company's name is displayed on the booth while you and your staff flip burgers and work the crowd.

11. Be a patron of education. Many communities look for companies to "sponsor" their schools. For example, a printing company made name tags and forms for one school to assist in its fundraising programs. In return, the company got mentions in school publications and generated goodwill with parents and faculty. Plus, if you donate goods to the school, you may be eligible for tax deductions.

These are just a few ideas to show that you don't have to spend a bundle to keep your company's name in public view. With a little creativity, you can become a marketing master on a shoestring budget.

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