Pros and Cons of Free Publicity in Newspapers, Magazines

    By Joan Stewart | Small Business

    Pros and Cons of Free Publicity in Newspapers, Magazines image newspapersectionsinpile2print publicity in newspapersThis is the first in a three-part series on the advantages and disadvantages or print, broadcast and online publicity. Part II will be featured next and focus on broadcast publicity.

    * * *

    When it’s time to launch your next promotion, and free publicity is an important component, know the pros and cons of print, broadcast and online publicity.

    If you know the advantages and disadvantages of each, long before the campaign begins, you’ll be in a much better position to schedule your pitches in enough time for certain media to cover your story. You’ll also be able to react quickly and know which media can cover you just a few hours after they learn about what you’re offering.

    Here are the most important things you need to keep in mind for print publicity. This includes newspapers, magazines, industry publications, alumni magazines, business journals, print newsletters and niche publications like church bulletins.


    • You can take advantage of newspaper and magazine editorial calendars. Larger publications create these for the benefit of advertisers who need to know which topics will be featured in which issues. Even if you don’t advertise, an editorial calendar can help you determine where your story might be the best fit.
    • Readers clip articles and pass them along to friends. Or they pass along the entire issue. Consider what happens to magazines inside your doctor’s office. Or on airplanes, where inflight magazines are stuffed into the seat pockets. Or in libraries, where a year’s worth are bound in big volumes, and can be viewed by patrons years after they were printed. Magazines published every other month have the longest shelf life of all.
    • You can target niches. Niche publications, like special interest magazines and newsletters, can have very loyal audiences and can let you target your message like a laser.
    • Daily newspapers have short lead times for news. If you’re pitching to a daily newspaper on Monday, it might appear in the paper on Tuesday if it’s newsy.
    • You can make reprints. Be very careful about this, however. Because the publication owns the copyright, you must ask permission to reprint. Some big newspapers and magazines have hefty fees for reprint rights. If you can’t afford the cost, buy as many copies of the publication as you can afford, as soon as it’s published. Don’t assume you can reprint articles written about you.


    • Circulation has been plummeting at most major daily newspapers. If your story makes it into the print version of a newspaper, but not onto the newspaper’s website, it can be here today and gone tomorrow.
    • Many people under 40 don’t read newspapers. If people under 40 are a significant part of the target audience for your publicity campaign, you need to concentrate on online publicity. Most of those people read their news online.
    • Lead times for various types of print media can be very confusing. While your daily newspaper might need only 24 hours notice, the big national magazine you’re dying to get into might want pitches a full six months before the issue is printed. Pitching a Christmas story? You’d better be working the phones in July. Weekly newspapers, on the other hand, sometimes want their stories a few weeks in advance.
    • Errors appear in print forever. If a fact in your story is wrong, it’s there for all the world to see for months and maybe even years. Even if you call the publication to correct an error in a front-page story, the correction might run on the bottom of Page 27 three days later.

    That’s my list of pros and cons. Did I miss anything? Please add to them in the Comments below.

    More Business articles from Business 2 Community:

    Subscribe to our mailing list
    * indicates required
    Small Business Services