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So many of us are addicted to Pinterest, that it’s all too easy to forget about some of the tried-and-true sites like that should be on top of our “must do” lists during a publicity campaign.

If you do business locally, or you want to publicize whatever you’re doing in your local market, Meetup offers a wide range of features that can help.

About MeetUp

First, a little about the site. It’s the world’s largest network of local groups. Meetup makes it easy for anyone to organize a local group or find one of the thousands already meeting up face-to-face. More than 2,000 groups get together in local communities each day, each one with the goal of improving themselves or their communities.

Meetup boasts an impressive 9 million visitors a month, meets in 45,000 cities worldwide, and has 280,000 monthly Meetups on every topic imaginable. Use the search box on the homepage to look for a group that fits your interests. Or start your own group.

Here are nine ways to use Meetup in a publicity campaign:

1. Create a Meetup account.

Even if your group has no special events to publicize, or you have no intention of meeting regularly, or even if your membership is invitation-only, create an account anyway. Write a good description of what you do and the kinds of people who would be a good fit. You never know who’s searching for you.

Wellspring, a gardening retreat and conference center near my home in Wisconsin, found The Port Washington Garden Club on Meetup after I created an account about two years ago. The education director searched on Meetup specifically for groups devoted to gardening and horticulture. She found my club and emailed me. Wellspring now promotes our events and we promote theirs. If you aren’t on the site, nobody can find you!

2. Attend a meeting, meet members and start forming relationships.

Don’t go intending to blast a free commercial about your business or hand out copies of your latest press release. Nobody likes that.

Meetup’s business groups have lots of ways for members to promote their businesses to each other. Get a feel for the group, its practices and offer free, helpful information. They’ll be dying to know what else you know. They’ll also be more inclined to spread the word about what you’re doing.

3. Offer to speak at a Meetup group that includes people in your target market.

The Wisconsin Business Owners Lunch & Learn Meetup has invited me to speak twice, and I accepted. But I didn’t pitch. Instead, I gave a content-rich presentation on blogging. And I walked away with a pocket of business cards of people who want to subscribe to my weekly ezine, “The Publicity Hound’s Tips of the Week.”

Groups like these are always looking for speakers. Here’s a nice promotion that featured me the last time I spoke in January. Great publicity!

4. Offer free information and samples to Meetup groups.

Group organizers love free stuff they can pass along to their members during a Meetup. A doggy day care owner can offer an oversized all-natural dog biscuit for a Meetup group of dog lovers. A plumber can give away a step-by-step guide on how to fix a leaky faucet to moms in a Single Moms Meetup. You can find the group organizer and contact information for each Meetup on that group’s page.

5. Connect your Facebook account to Meetup.

This lets your Facebook friends see what you’re up to on Meetup, and vice-versa which further spreads the word.

6. Take advantage of Meetup promoting your group.

Once you’ve created a Meetup group, Meetup will promote it automatically. Most groups have new members within a few days.

7. Found a Meetup you love? Look for similar Meetups.

On some Meetup pages, you’ll see a box that says, “People in this Meeteup are also in…”

8. Need to get in front of bloggers? Many communities have blogger Meetups.

In Chicago, for example, there’s the Chicago Bloggers Meetup with 309 members and the Chicago Blogs Meetup with 80. Getting to know bloggers long before you want publicity is a great strategy. Don’t have a blog yet? That’s OK. Ask them how to start one.

9. Learn about PR, publicity, marketing and social media.

In most major cities and many smaller ones, you’ll find Meetup groups devoted to these topics. I found two social media groups in the Milwaukee area that I want to join. What a fun way to learn more about whatever you need to know.

10. Look within Meetup groups for PR-related vendors.

Need a press release writer? Photographer? Ghostwriter? Publicist?

Meetup’s search box makes it easy to find, within minutes, local groups where these people congregate.

That’s my list. How else do you use for publicity?