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How to Get in the News and Gain Free Business Advertising: My Story

Updated on February 15, 2013
A screen shot of me in the news after launching an online talent website.
A screen shot of me in the news after launching an online talent website.

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, 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:

  1. Was a local resident who started a unique business.
  2. Wrote an attractive and concise press release.
  3. Worked with the reporter (interviewed before 8 am!).
  4. 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,, 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.

Respond Quickly

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.

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?


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    • profile image

      Shaun 5 years ago

      Unfortunately, print advertising is slowly dying and so I have been looking for alternative online sites to advertising on, my research found one nice one called that allows free business advertising, most of your followers will find it good for start ups.

    • Robert Erich profile image

      Robert Erich 5 years ago from California

      I am glad that you have enjoyed! And thank you for the compliment. It certainly was great to make it into the media.

    • profile image

      marico 5 years ago

      Great read, love it and gave me motivation. I have a idea that you would love. Marketing is my only problem and you just gave me an idea. Thanks!

    • Robert Erich profile image

      Robert Erich 5 years ago from California

      Very true rfmoran - it's much easier than one may anticipate to be newsworthy. Just takes some creative thinking.

    • rfmoran profile image

      Russ Moran - The Write Stuff 5 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Good Hub Rob. Too many entrepreneurs believe that they are not newsworthy, but as you point out, it is up to you to make yourself newsworthy, an easier task now because of 24/7 coverage.

    • Robert Erich profile image

      Robert Erich 5 years ago from California

      Thanks lindacee! It's true, I learned a lot even if the website didn't take off.

      @rahulo324 - The news will treat you better if you treat them better (most likely). However, even bad publicity can help increase a business. So really, publicity in general can be incredibly helpful.

    • rahul0324 profile image

      Jessee R 5 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      Nice piece of advice here...

      News and media is a sure thing to get you publicity... positive or negative depends on how well you treat them... isn't it?

    • lindacee profile image

      lindacee 5 years ago from Arizona

      Robert, great Hub and advice. You're right about news outlets constantly looking for compelling content. If you have a good hook and solid press release, stations will be anxious to share your story. Sorry the online talent show idea didn't work out, but you did gain valuable knowledge from your experience!

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

      This is one of the most practical and concise guides to getting into the news that I've ever seen. What a cool Hub- and what an awesome story! Thanks for sharing your advice.

    • Robert Erich profile image

      Robert Erich 5 years ago from California

      Some very good points on that website. Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      interloper 5 years ago

      You are very right. Press Releases are an excellent way to get great publicity - for FREE.

      There are a few excellent tips on 'What not to do in a press release' at:

      Newbies should take heed of that too.

    • leahlefler profile image

      Leah Lefler 5 years ago from Western New York

      This is fantastic! Very cool screenshot of you in the news, too - this is a great way to get free advertising!

    • greatstuff profile image

      Mazlan 5 years ago from Malaysia

      That's brilliant. I like what you said about the media wanting to be the first to report the next success story. It is true and it is one of their their KPIs. Another awesome article from you Robert!

    • ercramer36 profile image

      Eric Cramer 5 years ago from Chicagoland

      Thanks for all of the great advice! My wife and I run our own small business and it is hard to get your name out there cheaply. Voted up!

    • Robert Erich profile image

      Robert Erich 5 years ago from California

      Trinity M: Absolutely! Check out what rfmoran has just posted. If you spin it right, nearly anything can be great news. Teaching kids to read is a very valuable tool that the world should hear about! There are also many other opportunities for getting the world out about your product.

      rfmoran: Congratulations on getting on that show! You will definitely have to write an article about that to keep us posted on how it goes.

    • rfmoran profile image

      Russ Moran - The Write Stuff 5 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Solid advice. A well done press release can be magical. I had one go out 2 weeks ago on my new book and I'm already booked on a prominent business TV show in Connecticut

    • Trinity M profile image

      Trinity M 5 years ago

      Interesting hub. I’m curious though; would this really work for any kind of business? I have an online business selling a “teach your child to read” product and somehow I can’t imagine a press release working well for this? Any tips / ideas?

    • Robert Erich profile image

      Robert Erich 5 years ago from California

      That's awesome! Getting in the news really does give you a boost in viewership and in enthusiasm. If you ever have another biz idea and need a hand, let me know! I'm seeking out my next business venture now.

    • internpete profile image

      Peter V 5 years ago from At the Beach in Florida

      Great hub. A few years ago I was working with some friends and we started a website. I wrote a few press releases and what do you know, we got a call from a reporter who wanted an interview! It was a cool experience, and a fantastic way to get publicity. Voted up!