You really can’t beat publicity that is essentially free or what is referred to as earned media. It’s not easy to achieve this type of spotlight, but it is certainly possible. For exposure on television and print or digital news sites, you must find organizations that are looking for good, local stories especially on “slow news days” or during poignant moments.
One of my clients is a tattoo studio, and they regularly receive exposure on the news when someone at the studio gets a tattoo for something relevant. For example, someone got a David Bowie memorial tribute tattoo when Mr. Bowie passed away. A local TV station was quick to pick up the story and they were on the various news programs. So, if you’re an expert on something or can arrange an event that is newsworthy around your business (even if it’s local flavor), it is very possible to gain exposure in the form of earned media. The process just takes a little bit of work, but certainly worth the effort.
You can go the formal route and write a press release and send it out (with a follow-up) and/or pick up the phone and pitch the story to a reporter or the assignment desk. If they’re interested, they will definitely be contacting you for a sound bite. If you are able to regularly offer compelling human-interest stories or expertise, you may become a resource. If you are considered an asset, journalists looking for stories will come to you when something applicable pops-up. It is important to build relationships that are mutually beneficial.
In the digital/social media realm, earned media comes in the form of (not paid for) shares, mentions, reposts, and reviews. Basically it is word-of-mouth on the web. If your post goes viral, for example, that is considered earned media. Content is king. Team your strong, first page rankings (for your website with good SEO) with solid videos, blogs, or other relevant content and you have the perfect recipe for earned media potential. This all fits into the PR, or Public Relations, basket of the marketing plan for your business. Don’t ignore the potential of earned media. It blends well with your other advertising and marketing efforts. It also helps you gain credibility in front of your current and future customers.
The key is to become a valuable resource as an expert.