One way to get free coverage from newspapers, TV, radio, and other media is to stand out in the crowd. Plan an event or stunt that’s not seen every day, and depending on the amount or seriousness of the news that day, you may get free publicity. It takes research, planning, and a little luck, but it’s worth a try. The least you can expect is to be noticed by passersby, but hopefully you’ll attract some media attention, too.
The media is interested in subjects that are out of the ordinary and newsworthy. However, what’s newsworthy can be interpreted differently by each source. So if you don’t appeal to one medium, it doesn’t mean you won’t be of interest to others.
The key is to be different and innovative for your area and target market. You may have to get out of your comfort zone. Don’t copy a competitor and do something similar—you’ll look silly and will just remind everyone of your competitor’s event. You want to be first or don’t bother, so try to come up with a new idea. If you’ve seen or heard of an event in another city, consider it for your local area. As long as your market hasn’t seen it, it’s new.
Alert the media well in advance and again when you’re only a few days away. Here are some ideas you can consider or change to fit your business:
- Compete in a local event to win an award.
- Give an unusual donation to a local charity.
- Try to break a Guinness world record or sponsor someone who is trying to do so.
- Use a hot air balloon (if they’re not often seen in your area).
- Host a theme day where employees dress up as unusual characters.
- Rent wild animals (in cages) and have a special weekend zoo in the parking lot.
- Hire parachute stunt people to jump holding banners with your message or logo.
- Give away your products during certain hours or for a whole day.
- Hire a celebrity to entertain or sign autographs.
- Announce a new model of a big, expensive product and give the first one away free. (Try to split the cost with your manufacturer.)
- Have Christmas in July and give away gifts.
- Give away tickets to a circus or other family-friendly event to children of low-income families.
- Have the World’s Largest…something in your parking lot or store.
- Have a bingo party at a nursing home and give away prizes.
- Hire a well-known sports figure to give a clinic at your location.
- Sponsor an unusual show or event at a local hospital.
- Offer free meals to police officers, firefighters, or soldiers for a day.
- Hire a known entertainer for the children’s wing of a local hospital.
Find any ideas you want to use? If not, read them again and think about how you can change them for your business or industry. Remember to be different, be first, and be outrageous to get the media to notice you. And be sure to send press releases announcing the event.