Public relations (or PR for short) is all about getting our company or organization’s name out there – in a favorable way. It’s about spreading light on who we are and what we do.

But PR isn’t easy, especially when you have a small budget and an even smaller team.

So what’s an organization to do? Well here are a few tips for creating/executing a successful PR campaign on a very small budget:

1. Create a toolkit for your members

You may only have a staff of two or three, but in a way, your members are an extension of that staff (because they care about your organization and your mission). Use them! Create a toolkit to help your members easily spread the word about your association, and more importantly, your mission.  

What should you include in that toolkit? Well first, a one-page fact sheet explaining what your organization does/stands for. Then, consider putting together a few pre-composed social media posts that your members can easily share. (These posts could be statistics emphasizing why your mission is important – the number of children that go without milk for a dairy association, for example.)

The easier you make it for your members to share information, the more likely they are to actually do so.

2. Take advantage of social and digital

When budget is a factor, start with social and digital. These platforms allow you to reach a large amount of people without having to spend a ton of money.

Because there is so much noise out there though (information overload), it’s important that your message stands out. That means you have to get creative!

The best example of this? The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Millions of people participated in that  challenge because 1) it was fun, and 2) it made them look good (because they were advocating on behalf of a cause).

And do you know how much money the ALS Association had to spend to get people to create/share those videos? Aside from maybe a little bit in the beginning to get the movement going, nothing! That was a viral campaign that cost virtually nothing.

The point here? Never underestimate the power of social and digital. (But pro tip: For whatever type of campaign you run, DO create a unique hashtag (for example, #ALSIceBucketChallenge). This will help build the campaign’s momentum AND help you monitor/track results.)

3. Look around, then scale back

It can be discouraging to look at big organizations (the American Cancer Society, for example) and see the type of PR they’re doing, knowing those tactics will never be within your budget (the famous spokespeople, the TV appearances, the major events, etc.). But still look! Keep a close eye on what other organizations are doing, then scale those ideas back – to fit your organization’s goals and budget.

Can’t afford a famous spokesperson? Find someone who maybe isn’t famous, but has a great story to tell (as it relates to your industry). Stories are newsworthy, and we bet you can get some publicity that way, too.

Want more tips for spreading the word about your association – through your organization’s website, email, social media, and more? Check our our Small-Staff Guide to Association Marketing below!