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Munchie Cooks/

Free publicity can be a special gift to small business owners, especially those in service industries, struggling to survive amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic. 

Just because you don’t have a big budget to pay for marketing and advertising doesn’t mean you can’t get mind-blowing, maximum exposure for your business. The truth is, you can get free publicity by implementing effective strategies that include media coverage. 

As the country starts to reopen its economy, shuttered businesses are starting to reopen their doors to a new way of operating, a new way of conducting business and a new way of relating to customers.

There is, perhaps, no one who wants to be present to cover your journey into a new normal more than a reporter looking for a new story. So, go ahead. Give ’em one. What you get in return is free publicity that can not only help your business survive, but thrive. If you are not sure about how to reach a reporter or how to create a buzz to promote your business with free publicity, don’t worry. I have a few tried and true strategies and guidelines to help you achieve your goal. Ready? Let’s do it!

Contact Members of The Local Media

TV, radio, newspaper and magazine reporters are always looking for stories and respected experts to share their point of view, offer facts, stats and other valuable information for their reports. This in turn creates an opportunity for you to get free publicity.

Watch Local Television News

Television news reporters cover a wide range of stories, including business, medical, consumer and political. Watch morning, midday, evening and late night newscasts (Sunday through Saturday) to learn the names of news anchors and reporters and to see which kinds of stories they cover.

*Keep In Mind 

Television viewership is growing by leaps and bounds. When viewers want to know what is going on in their community they turn to the station they trust. 

Weekday and weekend newscasts, especially morning and midday shows feature guests who are interviewed by news anchors. They are usually interviewed live in studio. However, due to the Coronavirus(COVID-19) pandemic, some news anchors are working from home and in-studio interviews have been banned until further notice for the sake of safety. 

Guests are now being interviewed from their homes and businesses via Skype, Zoom and other forms of technology.

While watching television news, take note of the calibre of experts featured in reporter stories and live interviews.

Guests should be compelling, animated and passionate.

Guests should talk with the reporter, anchor or producer before the interview to have a clear understanding of details pertaining to the interview, including location and time.

Guests should be prepared to discuss the topic of conversation.

Guests should offer pictures, videos, charts and graphs to support their interview.

Guests should have relevant and new information that is easy to comprehend.

Guests should be clear and concise with their answers to questions.

Guests should be prepared to demonstrate how something works or how to do something, if their segment warrants that kind of interaction.

Listen To Radio Newscasts

Listen to morning, midday and evening newscasts on radio stations. Like television, radio reporters cover a wealth of stories and they sign off by mentioning their names at the end of their reports.

*Keep In Mind

The number of radio listeners is growing exponentially, too.

In addition to newscasts, radio stations broadcast talk shows, too.

Radio talk show hosts want interesting, dynamic and passionate guests.

Guests should be prepared for the discussion.

Guests should be prepared to talk for a long  period of time depending on whether their interview is live on air or recorded.

Read Newspapers and Magazines 

Read major local newspapers and magazines. Look for the byline above each article to get the name of the reporter who wrote it.

*Keep In Mind 

There are suburban journals, business journals and small-circulation newspapers.

They all have loyal readers.

Their stories are frequently picked up or followed by large-circulation newspapers.

Contact Reporters 

Connect with reporters via phone, mail, email and social media.

*Keep In Mind

Reporters have social media accounts, including Facebook and Twitter.

 You can Google radio and television stations and newspapers and magazine to secure newsroom numbers to call writers, reporters, anchors and producers.

You can leave a message on tip lines. Follow up. If you don’t get a response after a day or two, call back.

You can visit media websites to gather contact information for their respective newsrooms and reporters, including their phone numbers, email addresses and bio’s. 

You know what else is on their websites? Stories. Yes. Stories that air repeatedly on television news are also posted on their websites.

Be Prepared

Have your facts together before you reach out to a reporter.

Be clear and concise about the story or segment idea you are pitching.

Be ready for coverage and an interview. If a reporter is interested in your pitch, they could act on it right away.

Make sure your blog and website look professional.

*Keep In Mind

Reporters are busy.

Reporters work on several stories simultaneously.

Reporters have pressing deadlines.

Prepare A Press Release 

Prepare an awesome press release to send to newsroom assignments desk managers, reporters, anchors and show hosts.

Write an attention grabbing headline.

Include your credentials and main points of your story or segment idea in the first paragraph.

Answer the five W’s – Who, What, When, Where and Why.

Always include your contact information, especially your cell phone number. When reporters need to reach you, time is of the essence.

Speaking of time, send your press release in a timely manner. Four-to six weeks is ideal, if you are sending a press release to an anchor or producer of a morning television show to pitch a live interview or segment idea. One to two weeks is ideal for coverage of an event.

After you send your press release, follow up with an email or phone call to make sure the person you sent it to received it. 

When you connect with the recipient, offer to schedule an interview. 

Don’t be surprised if a reporter wants to interview you on the spot in advance of your event. If that happens, be sure to ask them to also cover the scheduled event, too. 

If there is breaking news or another reason the reporter can’t make the actual event or any event you have planned, take pictures, record video and email it to them. That way you will still get something on air. 

*Keep In Mind

If you see a television news story or hear a radio news report that falls in the area in which you have expertise, call the reporter if you would like to add your point of view.

Reach out to a reporter, if you have a feature or human interest story to pitch.

Reach out to a reporter if you see news happening near your business.

Every day is a good day to contact a newsroom and reporters, including weekends and holidays.

Now is an especially good time for business owners to reach out to reporters to report their trials and triumphs amid the pandemic.

Show reporters what you are doing now that you weren’t doing before COVID-19.

Invite reporters to cover your grand re-opening. Put up balloons and offer customers “welcome back” deals and specials.

Invite reporters to cover your community work, including fundraisers and donation drives.

Listen To Podcasts

There are about a million podcasts on the internet, which cover just about every subject under the sun, including business. Guess what? Podcast hosts want interesting, energetic guests, too.

*Keep In Mind

You can start your own podcast the way other successful business owners have done. The audio broadcast platform reaches millions of online listeners.

Talk about what it is like to reopen your business after being closed for weeks due to COVID-19.

Talk about your challenges and victories.

Invite other business owners to join you to discuss challenges, complexities and how you are navigating unchartered territory. 

Get On Social Media 

Billions of people around the world use social media. Your business can attract a great deal of attention, especially if your post or video goes viral.

*Keep In Mind

It doesn’t cost anything to open an account on social media, including Facebook, Youtube and Twitter, but it does require content.

Post pictures and videos about your business on social media every day.

Go live on Facebook for your grand re-opening, special events and every day activities.

Show visitors how to use a product or how to make something. Do a live presentation or record and post it to your account.

Join social media groups that share your interests and concerns, participate in conversations and post articles. 

Contribute To Blogs

There are a millions of blogs on the internet. Many have a huge number of followers. Some accept articles from guest bloggers. 

Blog about your business.

Share you journey.

People love success stories.

*Keep In Mind

There are a myriad of blogs online that offer valuable content, everything from niche blogs to personal blogs and from professional blogs to business blogs.

The Interview Request

If a reporter, producer or show host calls you for an interview, be prepared and be flexible. Develop a professional relationship with them. You never know, if your interview goes well, you could end up becoming a valuable source who is called back for interviews time and time again creating more free publicity for your business.


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