Wow, something for nothing—the idea is great! Why should you pay for advertising when you can get it for free? Just send in the copy and wait for the results. Why didn’t you think of this before? Well, Mr. or Ms. Businessperson, think again—it’s much more difficult than you might think to get free publicity, but it’s not impossible.
Don’t let me discourage you—when it happens it’s great, so be persistent and go for it! Many times it can happen when you least expect it. A good entrepreneur uses all the tools available, and publicity is certainly one of them.
Publicity, sometimes referred to as PR (public relations), is the media coverage of your business, products, services, or yourself. In some cases, publicity can be in the form of news, and in other cases it can be in the form of an entertaining or learning segment. Whenever your business is referred to, mentioned, or named in print or air media, that’s publicity.
But how do you get the media to mention your business in a positive way? After all, their source of revenue is from advertising, so why should they give it away? If you could find the elusive answer to that question, you wouldn’t need more publicity; you’d be very rich already. Timing, your pitch, and who you know can be big factors in getting your business name in front of the public without paying for it. For example, you could be called upon for commentary
as an expert in your field. If done with a positive angle, this can also mean an endorsement of your business by the media presenting it.
Media for publicity can come in several forms, such as news – papers, magazines, trade journals, television, and radio. You can contact them by phone, fax, email, or regular mail with your press releases, but if they’ve never heard of you, mail is your best first choice. It gives people a chance to read any literature you have sent and become familiar with your company. You can follow up shortly after by phone, and they might even remember your mailing. Timing your release for a slow media day can also help if you’re a new and unknown business.