Today, it's not easy to be front and center. We are marketed to in a variety of ways in countless places and on just about every platform imaginable. Keeping your brand visible is a challenge.

Many entrepreneurs think money and big budgets will solve this problem. It won't. One thing I love about public relations, earned media more specifically, is that you don't need to spend a dime to reach thousands, even millions. 

You can do it for free if you're willing to spend a little time being strategic executing a few PR tactics. 

1. Set Goals

So many people want exposure anywhere and everywhere they can get it. While that sounds great, it's just not possible. Set specific goals by focusing on where your ideal customers or clients are. What are they reading, watching, listening to? That's where you should be focusing on earning more exposure. 

Because pitching the media is a time-consuming task, it's important to really zero in on where you want to be. This doesn't only save you time but also makes your outreach more strategic.

For example, when I wanted to grow my email list, I focused on podcasts and giving away my eBook for free. To get the download, you needed to leave your name and email address. When a client with a local restaurant wanted people to stop in for lunch, I booked a cooking segment on the local TV station because that's who needed to be reached. 

2. Time Block

Now that you have a goal set, it's time to achieve it. Because this takes time, not money, you need to block off time every week to pitch yourself and follow up. Entrepreneurs and business owners are busy, many juggling multiple jobs and wearing many hats. If you don't set aside at least an hour a week to do this, you may not get it done. 

I do this for everything, not just specific work. When it comes to working out at the gym, it really gives you that extra push because it's already scheduled and on your calendar. 

3. Help Journalists

To earn more visibility in the media, you can't pitch yourself and hope to be promoted. Yes, it could happen, but you'll have better luck helping a journalist do his or her job. When you set your goal, you determined the outlets you wanted to be featured in, so now it's time to help those journalists write their stories. That could include providing them with story ideas or expert quotes when needed.

When I was a TV reporter, many days I walked into the newsroom with a story assigned to me. I just needed the elements to execute it, like the interviews from experts. Be that expert. Put your agenda aside and help a journalist. It will pay off in the long run.

4. Share Stories

Instead of spending time trying to force yourself into new markets, share the stories others are already telling about you and your brand.

Next time you visit a store or a restaurant, look around. You'll probably notice signs with social media icons and a call to action to check in or share a picture on social media and tag the store or restaurant.

When your customers or clients do this, it not only reaches their audience but also means more because it looks like a recommendation from a friend.

5. Use Testimonials

Great customer service will always get you referrals. It's the best form of PR. When you deliver great service, people will want to talk about how great you are. If you can persuade clients or customers to record a video testimonial, even better.

Today, many more people prefer to watch a short video than read a couple paragraphs. When you get those great mentions, share them everywhere - your website, social media, marketing materials, etc.

On one of my clients' social media channels, every Tuesday is "Testimonial Tuesday" with great information for potential clients to read, and hopefully, turn into new clients.

If you don't have the resources to hire a public relations agency, these tactics will set you up to start earning more visibility in your industry.

Published on: Dec 20, 2017
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.