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How to Get Ahead by Using the Media to Publicize Your Service, Product, Organization, or Idea

By: Kevin Nunley

Kevin Nunley provides marketing advice, copywriting, and promotion packages. See his 10,000 free marketing ideas at Reach Kevin at or 801-328-9006.

A little media exposure may be all you need to take your product or service to the next level. How often have you seen someone get a little exposure on TV or in the newspapers and see a BIG boost in sales as a result?

It happens everyday. Luck? Sometimes. But more often than not, the business succeeded because its leader knew how to use the media. We live in a huge mass society. Even if you shake 100 hands a day, you could only meet a tiny fraction of those people in your working lifetime. The only way to reach the masses, or even the majority of your target customers, is to use the media.

A recent business bulletin board session featured one entrepreneur complaining that advertising was too expensive and none of her many press releases to the media had ever netted any coverage.

Another contributor guessed that only one in every 20 press releases is ever used and the whole process might be futile. Finally, a third entrepreneur pointed out that maybe the failing press releases hadn't been newsworthy.


In order to get your product, service, organization, or idea into the media, you have to talk the media manager's language. You must hit what I call the Media Manager Hot Buttons.

First, target your message to the medium that is most interested in your type of story. Television goes for a mass audience. Radio seeks a very tightly focused demographically-skewed crowd.

Magazines touch a specialized regional or national readership. Your local paper goes for a very local angle. Media is ultra-fractionalized these days and each outlet tries to stake out its own little corner of the audience. Think about which media outlet in your community addresses your target customers.

There are several topics that media managers almost always go for. If you can think of a way to combine your message with one of these topics--you're in.
  1. Is your story trendy? At any given time there are certain topics that the media seems to be beating to death. It may be reduction of crime, or new schools, or the city's sorry streets. Find some way to connect your message to the media's latest trend.

  2. Does your message fit with one of America's cherish beliefs? Story lines such as "the little guy takes on corruption" or "formerly poor single mom takes on the business world and succeeds" or "one guy gets fed up and cleans up his neighborhood" are stories the media always jumps for. Even if you're selling gum, there is probably some way for you to connect your business with one of the many stories that fit into the cherished belief mold.

  3. Does your message tie into a topic of mass interest? Media frequently does surveys to find out the community's top five concerns. The results are almost always the same. Crime, kids, schools, roads, employment. The media always covers topics like these.

  4. Can you relate your message to some community scandal? The media loves to cover things that get people worked up. Corruption, dishonesty, cover-ups, illicit sex (their favorite), racism, bully-ism, and any other -ism you think of. Perhaps you can position yourself as a good guy taking on an "-ism."

  5. Is your message a reporter's pet subject? Under this category absolutely anything has a chance of getting in the media (and it often accounts for some of the strange stuff you see in the media). Get to know media folks whenever possible. Radio DJs are especially approachable. Stop by the studio of your favorite station with a box of donuts and start a friendship. Your favors will be returned on the air.
The bottom line is this: think like the media, shape your message to fit their likes. Do that and your message has a good chance of being used. Above all, don't let up. While one media manager may not have the slightest interest in your idea, another will welcome you with open arms. The media needs piles of fresh stories everyday.

Hang in there and make sure your product, service, organization or idea is one of those stories.

© 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1996

Other Articles by Kevin Nunley

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