Secrets of Local Press: The Art of Free Publicity
Buying a full-page ad in your local newspaper would cost more than most small businesses could afford. However, if you got your local newspaper to cover you for free, that’s exactly what you’d get: an entire page dedicated to you.
Here’s how to leverage the power of the press to get massive free publicity in your local area.
==> Pay Attention to Subsections
People often make the mistake of only trying to make “The Big News.” When you’re trying to get attention locally, often times it’s better to focus on smaller sections.
For example, if you’re a restaurant owner, you might try to get a story in the “Food” section. If you’re opening a new co-working space, you might try to get a story going in the “Business” or “What’s Going On” sections.
Different papers have different sections. Look through the various local papers and pick the sections you want to try to get stories in.
==> Don’t Forget Magazines
Large cities often have magazines as well as newspapers. For example, San Francisco has the “7×7” magazine, dedicated just to San Francisco. New York, Chicago, Boston and many big cities also have similar circulations.
==> Getting in Touch with Journalists
The best way to get in touch with journalists is to go direct. Avoid press releases and don’t fax in your story.
Instead, find the editor or journalist who’s responsible for the specific section you’re targeting. Try to pick people who’ve written about similar stories in the past.
Then send them an email pitching your story. Wait about 24 hours, then contact them by phone to follow up.
Remember that newspaper editors need to fill pages. If you have a fantastic story, there’s a very good chance you’ll get picked up.
==> What Kind of Story Should You Pitch?
Of course, if you’re going to get in the press, you need a fantastic story. You can’t just talk about your business – you need an angle.
One great angle is to leverage famous people. If someone famous frequents your restaurant for example, ask if they’d be willing to do an event for your restaurant. Let them know you’ll give them all the profits for the night; you just want the publicity.
Another idea is to leverage recent stories. For example, right after Pepsi did their famous Pepsi challenges, you could host a Pepsi challenge every night at your establishment.
Let your imagination run wild. The most important thing is that you come up with a story that’s truly noteworthy. Then find the right journalist and get in touch.
You might not land the story your very first try. Keep coming up with interesting angles and soon enough you’ll get your first mention in the newspapers. Keep it up and you’ll quickly build a rolodex of reporters who can’t wait to talk about your next move – provided it’s interesting. This is a fantastic way to build up a business for next to nothing.