My Marketing Thing

Choosing between advertising or journalists

Russell Crowe State of Play cartoon


There’s a lot of people out there at the moment saying ‘Don’t waste your money on advertising’. The grand alternative offered tends to be three-fold: 

  1. online marketing
    (blog posts, directory listings, keyword optimisation, social marketing like Twitter, etc.)
  2. affiliate marketing
    (partnering in some way with another business who has a mailing list that matches your target market)
  3. free press
    (sending a media release or media pack out to selected journos in the hope that they will tell the world about you)


Advertising can be expensive and there’s much to say about these ‘big three’. But sometimes advertising can be the right thing at the right time in the right place – it could be just what your business needs.

It all depends on your particular situation (your budget and what you want to see happen where, etc.). It is a case by case thing.

There, I’ve said it.


Now onto that third item: Why free press might be better

Appearing in a newspaper or magazine (or online news) article can be a beautiful thing for getting the word out there about what you do. So can appearing in a television or radio segment. This kind of exposure is often considered better than advertising.


Because ‘news’ is considered by most people as objective information – and therefore, likely to be trustworthy. Advertising, on the other hand, is just you promoting yourself. That much is obvious. You could say anything. So why should I trust you?


Is any publicity good publicity?

Apparently it was Irish poet and dramatist Brendan Bahan (1923-1964) who said ‘There’s no such thing as bad publicity’. What you might not know is that the quote ends ‘…except your own obituary’.

(side note: I don’t know if Toyota would agree that there’s no such thing as bad publicity right now)

At least with advertising, you know the message is going to be a positive one.  In the free publicity playground, there is no guarantee.

Ideally, we would all love positive publicity to the point of bursting enthusiasm. But the media have to do their best to appear objective (this is not always achieved, but it’s the industry’s official ‘duty of care’).

Still, it is possible for a story to appear both objective and positive. And that’s what we need to shoot for when writing a media release

What is a media release?

A media release is an item of news about your business, your products and/or services, or contains an industry-related topic where your opinion is expressed, and is sent to selected members of the media.

You hope that they’ll make your media release a front page article with a fantastically eye-catching photo next to it. This doesn’t always happen but, for some, is has happened.

If the media decide to use your media release for a story you don’t have to pay. It’s not advertising. They are using your information as part (or all) of their research.

Being helpful to journalists

Bearing in mind that journalists are having a terrible time with insane deadlines (remember Russell Crowe’s constant whining as the journalist in State of Play?), a well-written media release – with a timely story relevant to their readership – can be considered pure gold.

If a journalist is stressed, lazy or has a if-it-ain’t-broke attitude, your media release could be accepted and printed verbatim. If they cut your story, the release is often edited from the bottom up.  So you must have all the important facts at the very beginning. The story might end up being only your first paragraph.  Better to have that than nothing at all.
Are you newsworthy?

The media is willing to support almost any story – as long as it has an angle or some kind of newsworthy potential and is relevant to their readership. Editors are always looking for things that are unique and different.

So de-ostrich yourself.  Raise your head and look around you.  Be conscious of what’s going on ‘out there’ and how your story might be relevant to the bigger picture.


Next post…
…will outline how to write a humdinger of a media release.  So keep in touch :)


This post was written by Megan Hills. Megan is a writer, cartoonist and marketing ‘here’s my two cents’ gal. She also likes going to the movies. Find out more about Megan.


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