How to Use the Media to Get Free Advertising

by Tim Parker

Looking for an inexpensive way to get the word out about your business? The media - bloggers, newspapers, radio, and television - are always looking for unique stories to share with their audiences. Here's how you can get their attention.

newspaper front page
Image source: BigStockPhoto.com

Small businesses don’t have a mega advertising budget. Often, they don’t use ad agencies or purchase prime TV time. Furthermore, their logos aren’t plastered on billboards like the big box stores. All of those are expenses that small business can’t afford, but finding ways to get the word out is essential in order to contend with larger competitors.

You already know about social media. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest are all popular, but with so many people competing for the eyes of social media audiences worldwide, getting noticed online has become a lot of work for little reward, according to some business owners.

Another way to gain exposure is through the media. Every media outlet is has to tell stories compelling enough to get and hold reader attention. The more eyes the media gains, the higher the price of their ad space. If you have a story to tell, the media wants to hear and that can mean free advertising.

If you have a new product that is unique, tastes great, or works well, and it’s priced attractively, the media might be interested. Additionally, for anything besides print media, the look is important too. If it has colorful packaging, or visually unique, those increase your chances of gaining media exposure.

What if you’re in the service business? The media is always attracted to something new. If your business launched within the past few months, your service is unique, saves the consumer money, or offers something free, you’re likely to gain attention.



Of course, any trendy product is media friendly. If it’s environmentally friendly, addresses a problem that grabs the heartstrings of the public, or a portion of the proceeds are going to charity, alert the local media.

How to Get Their Attention

There are three ways to get the attention of the media. The go-to way is to write a press release. Think of your press release as an advertisement or commercial. Start the release with something that will pique the interest of the person reading it.

The hook, as it is often called, should not only be eye catching, it should sum up your release. Something like, “Jane’s Treats announces a new line of chocolates to benefit local charities,” not only sums up the rest of the release, it mentions the charity angle—one that the news media love to cover.

You can submit press releases to media outlets through the Internet, but remember that your release will be in a stack with many others so make sure it stands out.

The second way is to approach the outlet directly. Find out who covers the beat where your news would best fit. Email them and let them know that you would like to talk to them about your news. If you don’t receive a response, follow up with a phone call. Just like you did in your press release, get their attention in the first couple of seconds.

Third, watch for requests that fit your business. Sites like helpareporter.com allow reporters to post queries requesting comments for an upcoming story. You can sign up to receive an email of daily requests.

When a query fits your business, respond by answering thoughtfully and in-depth. Describe your business and related products. If they use your comments, they’ll give you credit and often mention your business to establish your expertise to the reader. This strategy not only establishes you as an expert, (save the article and send to customers) it can result in more favorable search engine positioning if you get a backlink out of it.

Be Sure to Follow Up

Just because somebody says they’re interested doesn’t mean your work is done. Once they express interest, immediately set up a time to either meet or talk over the phone. If they ask for information via email, send it promptly.

If they tell you that they’ll get back to you, give them a few days and follow up again. Reporters get numerous requests just like yours. The stories that stay fresh in their minds are the ones they will cover.

Other Ways to Get Media Coverage

1) Sponsor an event. If your business is the headline sponsor of a community event, the media will want to know.

2) Offer to be a resource. If you meet a reporter either personally or professionally, give them your business card and tell them that if they need an expert resource for a future piece, you would be happy to help.

3) Don’t forget about bloggers. Especially if your company has national or international reach. Blogging used to be for the average person to post their insights on subjects about which they were passionate. Now, blogging is a mainstay for large companies, major media outlets, and many individuals.

If somebody wants to interview you for a blog post, do not write it off. That blog might have tens of thousands of readers.

Bottom Line

The days of paying for expensive advertising space are gone. The Internet relies on frequent, new information in order to stay up to date. You can become the story and, in turn, gain some free advertising without paying a dime. If your story is compelling that publicity can be constant.

© 2013 Attard Communications, Inc., DBA Business Know-How®.  May not be reproduced, reprinted or redistributed without written permission

 
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