While word of mouth is a good source of free advertising for an established company, a new business needs to concentrate on letting people know it exists, what it does and where it is located. New business owners need to advertise their products or services at a time when they may have limited funds. Submitting press releases about your business can yield free advertising in thousands of newspapers and magazines, helping increase awareness of your company and, ideally, boosting your sales.
Research which trade magazines and newspapers share customer demographics similar to your company's. A simple Internet search typically turns up hundreds of publications. For example, the search “magazines: vintage recipes” returns more than 2 million results. Use the same method for finding print newspapers.
Check submission guidelines to see how each newspaper or magazine accepts material from the public. You may need to send a query letter to some magazine publishers, while others will accept unsolicited material. Follow the guidelines exactly to increase your chance of acceptance.
Read each magazine's table of contents for the past two years to make sure the publications have not recently published articles similar to yours. Additionally, for both newspapers and magazines, read a few articles from the publications your target audience reads, to learn the publications' writing styles and ideal article length.
Find the editor’s name and email address for each publication you're submitting a press release or article to. Newspapers typically print this information on page 2; magazines may print it anywhere within the first few pages or even near the end of the publication. Address your email or correspondence using the editor’s full name and title. Since you are contacting a large number of publications, use the “BCC” (blind carbon copy) option in your email program to streamline this process; BCC also prevents your correspondence from looking like a mass email, even if you simultaneously sent it to multiple recipients. Alternately, you could hire an online public relations firm to send your press release to thousands of publishers at once. However, if you want completely free advertising, use the more time-consuming method of researching and sending the information yourself.
Write a press release about your product or service, keeping the tone of the piece informative and intriguing rather than obviously promotional. State how your company benefits the community or the customer. A well-written “human interest” press release that follows submission guidelines, as well as the writing style of the particular newspaper or magazine, has a better chance of being published than a sales flyer. Additionally, a time-sensitive piece can more successfully get a newspaper editor’s attention, while a magazine editor may need a longer lead time. Create several versions of the press release to appeal to differing submission criteria. The time-sensitive press release could relate to your participation in an upcoming event, while a magazine submission may explain unusual or interesting aspects of your business.