Even as newspapers struggle to survive against burgeoning digital media, local newspapers are still a valuable part of the communities they serve. And while advertising rates for large metropolitan newspapers can be prohibitive for small businesses, there are many viable and creative ways for business owners to use their local media, from large dailies to free community weeklies, to promote themselves.
While large metropolitan dailies reach the masses, they also make for expensive marketing venues. An option is your community weekly newspaper, whose rates typically are a fraction of the local daily. From small towns to large cities, scores of these papers have sprung up over the years and attracted a devoted following in their communities. Being smaller, they also carry less “clutter” (editorial content and ads), making your ad stand out more than it would in the crowded environment of a daily.
Find a Partner
While a display ad in the local business or classified section may be too expensive for a single business, a group of businesses teaming together can make the space a more affordable yet just as visible and effective venue. Three podiatrists across three different neighborhoods in the same town could team to buy a single eye-catching color ad. The ad could promote the various services all the doctors specialize in, with the individual doctors’ names, addresses, and phone numbers listed across the bottom, at one-third the price of one business going it alone. Another ad could promote various businesses, from a gourmet food shop to a hair salon, for example, located in the same shopping plaza. Also, many neighborhood papers include a community business section, featuring small ads for individual businesses at a rate much cheaper than ads devoted to a single business.
The local press is always looking for experts in their fields who can be the news department’s go-to person when the news warrants. You may start that relationship by writing an opinion column and submitting it to the opinion/editorial editor of the paper. If you work in the financial services industry and have a particular point of view on the current economic crisis, for example, put it in writing and submit it to your local op-ed editor. You may first want to reach out to the editor to see whether he or she would be interested in such a piece before you sit down to write it.
Alternatively, write a letter or an e-mail to the editor or a reporter whose byline you’re familiar with, introducing yourself and promoting yourself as a potential resource for relevant news stories. For example, if you specialize in tax preparation, let your local paper know you are available to be interviewed for related stories. Or if you are a lawyer specializing in immigration issues, let the editor know you would be eager to speak on the record anytime he or she needs such an expert. Journalists are always happy to meet professionals in the fields they cover; and it is an effective and free way of promoting yourself in the community.
Do Good in Your Community
By sponsoring a charitable cause in your neighborhood or town, such as a community cleanup day or a youth-sporting league, you’re not only doing good by helping your neighbors but are also boosting your own image in the community. Your local press can play an important role. If it is an event you are sponsoring, be sure the events editor knows about it in advance so he or she can put an announcement (along with your business name) in the paper and assign a reporter to cover the event. Many papers run free or greatly discounted ads to promote charitable causes, presenting another valuable promotional possibility.