15 Types of Stories That Get You Free Publicity

Many small business owners never approach journalists, because they don’t think they have anything news-worthy to offer.

The truth is, they just don’t know which elements of their business are worthy of media exposure.

Below is a list of 15 types of stories that journalists are usually looking for. Don’t be overwhelmed by the seemingly long list. Consider it a buffet for you to choose from. And certainly, don’t feel compelled to use them all at once!

Also, avoid the temptation of saying to yourself “My business is different, this idea won’t work.” Yes, it will. These general topics work over and over again for many different companies and individuals.

If you just open up to the possibility, I guarantee you’re going to see different types of stories you would never have thought of that actually apply to you, your business, product, service, book or expertise.

Time-Sensitive Media Stories

These are stories we commonly think of as “news.” It’s time-sensitive or time-bound, which means, after a certain date, it’s pretty much useless.

For example, if you’re organizing an event, then at a certain time, information about that event is no longer news or interesting.

1. Announce something new.

Do you have a new product offering? A new feature in your product? Even a new free offer? Did you update a product or service? That’s news your customers or prospects may want to hear about sooner rather than later.

2. Tie-into breaking news as it breaks.

Is your business or product relevant to breaking news? Monitor the news with an eye to finding items that relate to your business.

3. Tie-into annual events or holidays (or create your own).

Can you tie into a special event or commemoration? What is the time of year that people are thinking about needing your product, needing your program, needing your book, what time of year are they talking about you?

4. Raise a controversial issue or tie into one.

Who is an expert of getting a lot of publicity that you disagree with? You can go back to that same reporter who wrote about them and say, “Actually this is my opinion….”

Reporters can do follow-up stories and that’s a prime way of just piggy backing onto somebody else’s story.

Do you have innovative ways of doing something? Is there a lot of misinformation in your topics? Are there scams or frauds going on around now that you can comment on?

5. Pitch yourself as part of a trend

Is there something that’s increasing or decreasing in your field right now that you can comment on? Is there a niche popping up and is there some way for yourself to be tied in to that trend?

You could be noticing an upcoming need, demand or problem which you’re already addressing right now. If you pitch yourself as part of a trend, you also want to keep in mind if anyone else can comment or is also part of this trend. Helping a reporter find you as well as other sources makes doing a story – and their job – easier.

The next type of stories aren’t time sensitive. These are stories you can pitch months in advance. They won’t get stale or irrelevant.

Non-Time Sensitive Stories

6. Promote your personal story

This is where you are the main story, it revolves around you. It could be a profile, a review of your product or service or your book.

7. Tie-into a popular movie

For example, recently the Twilight movies have been very popular. They’re about teens and star-crossed lovers. Maybe you could comment about that? If you’re an expert on mythology, relationships or teen development, then what inputs can you give about these movies? Use popular movies or even TV shows as a springboard for a story idea to pitch.

8. Tie-in with “celebrities”

If you have ever worked with any celebrity, if they’ve given you some kind of testimonial, then use that. Celebrities don’t have to be just TV and movie stars but also famous authors, CEOs and influential people in your field.

Another approach is to ask influential people for advice. If you’re writing a new book, you could ask these people for advice related to your book’s topic.

9.  Do something for charity

I’m not advocating doing charitable work just to get publicity. What I am saying is, if you are doing something charitable–out of love–then you may as well maximize the situation and get publicity from it.

For best results, local initiatives do best. Target your local newspapers, radio and TV, because they’re going to be the ones most interested in it.

10.  Do a survey

In all likelihood, you’re doing some kind of market research for programs and services you want to develop. Why not share your results? This could position you further as an expert in your field.

I’ve seen survey results released that have just a couple of hundred respondents. Even a short survey with interesting results can be the basis for a story. However, do make sure you follow best practices in research so nobody can criticize your methodology and question your results.

Another way is to watch new studies or survey results that are published, and tie into them. Comment on the results. What bold, outrageous and provocative statement can you make about them?

11.  Help people solve a problem

You’re in business because you help people solve problems. How you help people solve problems is a story idea!

12.  Target a certain demographic, race, religion or other niche

Many people miss this as a story idea. Having an ultra-specific niche can make a good story. What niche are you targeting and why?

13.  Issue a “Top Ten” list

People love lists. They provide information in an easy-to-digest format. Make a list of best practices, top mistakes, things to avoid, things to do, what to have… there are so many possibilities!

14.  Create a memorable brand/name

People don’t do this often enough. I’ve branded myself as “the passionate publicist.” That means I’m passionate about helping entrepreneurs get publicity. 😉

Create an identifying brand or identity for your business, and always use it, so people start remembering it. If you already have one, by all means, always include it in all your communication and marketing materials.

15. Write an op-ed

An op-ed is a letter to the editor clearly expressing your opinion about something. It’s not a pitch. Instead, you write why you feel the way you do about a particular story they recently published.

Of course, tie it into your business somehow, but keep in mind it shouldn’t be a blatant pitch for your business. When you sign off, for example, make sure to include your branding (see number 14 above) and your official email address and website.