The slogans, "loose lips sink ships" and "keep it under your Stetson," which later morphed to "keep it under your hat," were free advertising campaigns designed to remind Americans during World War II of the dangers of sharing too much information. The War Advertising Council formed in 1941 -- now called the Ad Council -- partners with government agencies and nonprofit organizations to create free advertising campaigns for messages that have a wide scope. Even though your message might not be of national importance, you can still receive free advertising for your worthy cause.
Qualifying for Free Advertising
Public service announcements represent free advertising to nonprofit groups organized under Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3). Meant strictly for charitable nonprofit, nonpolitical organizations, this code section allows these groups to accept donations with the stipulation that individuals or members cannot benefit financially from the organization. This status also qualifies nonprofit organizations to receive free advertising from local and national media companies and the Internet.
Nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations can receive free web hosting, search engine advertising and even sign up for a free email service that allows them to create a newsletter. You can also find creative professionals who are willing to donate their time to help you develop a marketing and advertising campaign, websites or a press kit.
Leverage the Message
To get free advertising in print, on the Internet, on television or the radio, leverage your message to create a themed advertising campaign for the various media options. An advertising campaign can consist of 30- or 60-second television spots or radio advertisements, newspaper ads, press releases, Internet ads or free social media campaigns. Once your advertising campaign is ready to go, contact local television and radio stations or online search engines to advertise your event. Each resource may have a different application process.
Media Kits Generate Interest
Create a media kit and send it to television stations, newspapers, magazines and even online sites that host free press releases or a community calendar to generate interest for your cause or event. Follow up with a personal email or phone call. Make your media kit accessible on your website for download. Media kits should include background info, fact sheets, important bios, press releases, photos, block or banner ads, videos and MP3s or links to sites that host them for free. You can also develop free social media pages that tie back to your website to help get your organization's message out.