When I was a reporter, there were long stretches of time when there was no breaking news at all and I needed to find something to write about, to justify the paycheck and access to free coffee that my bosses grudgingly doled out. And believe me, every business in town would like to be featured or quoted in a positive light in the newspaper.
However, this didn't mean that I would pick just any business to write about for my editors.
Here's one example of a business owner who called me up and managed to get some free publicity and also do a good deed: after a storm, a lot of scam contractors were going around preying on desperate homeowners, taking their cash, often thousands of dollars, and then vanishing or doing little or no work and leaving the area.
So a guy who really was a licensed contractor called me up and suggested I do a story on contracting scams to look out for, and how to verify that someone is a legitimate contractor, and offered himself as a source. I did a little checking, found out that he really was a licensed contractor – you don't take anyone's word for anything when you're a reporter – and did a story and quoted him, along with a few local officials.
Why did I pick him out of all the other businesses who would have loved to be featured in the paper?
Well, why are you reading this post?
Because I am offering you free, useful information.
I picked him for the same reason. I quoted him because he had information that gave genuine value to our readers.
So when you are thinking of approaching a newspaper, radio station, or TV station, remember that they truly don't care less about your business. They care about giving their customers valuable information. You need to come up with that spin, that angle, which provides value to their customers. Read the news, see what's happening in your area, figure out what the readers or listeners or views problems are, and offer a solution – and you are liable to be the one that the reporter or editors picks out of the faceless crowd of "write about me! me me me!" businesses.