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How to Build Your Own Brand Buzz

You don't necessarily need professional help to get the word out. Try these tactics for good old-fashioned self-promotion.

David Ciccarelli likes to see his company, Voices.com, mentioned on blogs, in online news stories and anywhere else he can get a plug. His pursuit of publicity has landed high-profile reviews of his online marketplace for voice-over talent on blogs such as TechCrunch, as well as stories in The New York Times and on CNN.com.

"We've never hired a public relations agency," he says. "We don't know anyone personally at a PR firm and can't call in favors. We're on a limited budget."

Instead, Ciccarelli is constantly on the lookout for online publicity opportunities. But online publicity is a bit different than traditional publicity, says Mac McLean, a partner in charge of client publicity at Click Communications, a digital marketing firm in Los Angeles.

"With online publicity, you need to reach out and find people that are enthusiastic about your type of business and are willing to share it with their readers, who come to them specifically to hear about their tastes and opinions on that specific subject matter," McLean says.

Look at who's writing about your competition. Search for news about your competition and set up Google Alerts for your competitors' names. "Looking up people who are writing about your competitors or who have a vested interest in your type of product or service is going to allow you to identify websites, specialty blogs or even enthusiastic writers who have an interest in your field," he says.

Also, don't forget old-school story ops. Ciccarelli applies for industry and marketing awards and sends releases out when Voices.com, based in London, Ontario, wins.

Finally, consider being a source. Several subscription-based services deliver requests from journalists seeking sources for their stories and segments. HelpaReporter.com and ReporterConnection.com are free and let you review requests from journalists on deadline. When Google offered services similar to Voices.com for a short time in 2006, Ciccarelli commented to several media outlets about the giant competitor and its business model, to his own benefit: "It generated a bunch of publicity and web traffic for us." 

Gwen Moran is a freelance writer and co-author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Business Plans (Alpha, 2010).

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This article was originally published in the February 2011 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Build Your Own Buzz.

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