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How to Get in the News and Gain Free Business Advertising: My Story
One of the biggest challenges for entrepreneurs is getting their name in front of potential customers. Big brands like Coca-Cola and Ford spend millions of dollars every year on advertising. Unfortunately, for start-ups, spending a ton of money to gain publicity is not an option.
An entrepreneur must find creative guerrilla marketing methods in order to successfully promote his business. The internet has proven to be both a blessing and a curse. It is a blessing because anyone can become an overnight sensation without paying a dime. It is a curse because a business must compete with every other small-time start-up that is trying to do the same thing he is.
One method to stand out from the competition, while still gaining free publicity, is to end up on the news. While this may be difficult, it is not as challenging as one would think.
My Experience in the News
When attempting to launch StageOff.com, an online talent show website, I ended up on the local news in Chico, CA. While the business never did succeed, it was a great learning experience and will benefit me in future endeavors.
I got on the news because I:
- Was a local resident who started a unique business.
- Wrote an attractive and concise press release.
- Worked with the reporter (interviewed before 8 am!).
- Had several newsworthy promotional methods.
How to Get in the News
It is not as difficult as one might think to end up on the local news. With news stations reporting 24/7, they are constantly seeking out new stories to share. And the beautiful thing is, with so many competing stations, it is easy to play them against each other and potentially gain a spot on multiple channels.
Although there is never a guarantee that you will end up being watched by the entire city at 9 PM, there are some steps that you can take to give yourself an opportunity to gain free publicity.
Do Something News Worthy
This does not mean that you need to stop a terrorist attack or be the first person to fly to Mars - what it does mean is that you need to do something that provides value to the community. News stations are focused on keeping local viewers. When there are stories that benefit or attract the interest of the local audience, news stations take interest.
If your business is novel or creative, the news will often find it attractive. Reporters are always interested in the "next big thing". Although my company, StageOff.com, never succeeded (due to a lack of programming expertise on my part), we did get in the news because we were novel, local, and had potential. News stations want to be the first to report on who will be successful tomorrow. Every reporter wants to be the first reporter to discover the next Facebook.
For businesses not involved in the online business industry, it is still possible to gain publicity through the news. The key is to do something that captures people's attention. Are you launching a program to benefit the community? Do you have a cure for a common problem in people's everyday life? The news is not interested in promoting businesses, it's interested in reporting what could be a big story. Think of ways that you could be the next big story.
Create a Sense of Urgency
Reporting is a fast moving industry. New ideas and stories are popping up all the time. Make it clear that your project needs to be presented first because it will be old news soon. This gets the reporters hopping.
Write a Press Release
With the following in mind, write a succinct, captivating, press release. Remember that reporters have a lot of news to look into. If what you say is too complex or too confusing they will completely ignore it.
Again, news is fast business. A reporter will contact you and expect to have a story in time for the next evening's news. If you are unavailable or fail to return the call immediately, she will find someone else to write up a story about. Respect the reporter and she will give you free publicity.
Resources for Writing Press Releases
Try For Yourself!
Any entrepreneur must be unashamed to promote her business with great gusto. The goal is not to be obnoxious. But, if you fully believe in the value of your company, and you know that your business will benefit society, then sharing and promoting it should be something you are confident to do. Don't start a business you are embarrassed to talk about. So get out there and start talking to everyone!
Contacting local news agency is quick, easy, and free! It never hurts to send a quick email, make a brief phone call, or stop by an office. Who knows, that one action could change your life and the future of your business.
There are many ways to get free and inexpensive publicity. The news is one of them. What other methods have you used or discovered to promote a business?