Yesterday I got a local newspaper in the mail, and as usual I just glanced through it. As you may know, I'm in the middle of launching a local niche site that promotes a particular local service, so I'm always interested in seeing what ads are in the paper.
As I glanced through, I noticed an article titled "When obtaining automobile repairs, follow these tips to protect yourself". Now, I'm not interested in auto body, but the placement of this article was a little odd. For a local paper, this article just didn't fit. It was really generic, mentioning things such as getting multiple bids, etc.
So I fired off a quick email to my friend, a public relations and publicity guru, asking him about the article.
"Yep, that would be PR from the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud," he replied. "The difference between an article like this and a standard press release is that it's pre-packaged -- basically an unsolicited, ready-to-print article."
He continues: "Smaller papers like the Call (our local paper) are generally happy to run these types of articles because they have small staffs and a lot of space to fill. At the bigger papers, like the Post Dispatch, you have reporters' egos to deal with and generally have to approach them with a press release baited with some sort of news hook. They might run the release as a story, but only after getting some of their own quotes and slapping a new lede on top. This allows them to get a by-line and happens more than you might think, particularly if you catch a reporter on a slow news day. Anytime you see an article in the paper that seems to endorse something, it generally started life as a press release."
Now my friend has written up some real nice web content for my site, so I asked him, how hard would it be to turn these articles into "press releases" that we could submit to local papers, TV stations, and radio shows? The answer - a surprising "very easy".
So allow me to get to my point (am I dragging this out?). All those cheap articles you've had written for you can be reborn as press releases with just a tiny bit of massaging.
The better news - its cheap. Since you've already got the content pre-written, getting a professional to change it into a press release (that local papers will love) can be done pretty low-budget.
Now, while I don't want to quote anyone's prices, I'd estimate that the average from-scratch press release would cost you about $100-200. But the same, pre-submitted content - turned into a press release could cost you as little as $40. Some companies also cover the distribution of the PR, if you so desire (possible additional fee).
So for less than fifty bucks each, you can have the chance at getting stories in local papers. Promote your website or services in the article, with a quote or other mention, and submit it to all the local papers, big and small.
You can't beat it.
And, if you've got the money, I'd suggest submitting at least one to PRWeb, at the $80 level. This will get your PR into Google and Yahoo! News, and traffic to your site will increase. If your site has a good design and message, that $80 will be money well-spent.