By: Stephanie Soldo

About two years ago, we defined what free media is here, but now we’d like to dive deep into what free media really, REALLY means.


Free media. How many business owners out there have wanted to promote their companies but could not decide between advertising or publicity – aka free media?

The best way to describe free media is to compare it to its counterpart – advertising, which involves a person or company paying a newspaper (or radio station or cable TV channel) to have an awesome product or service put on display for the world to see (or hear). Of course, there’s nothing wrong with advertising, and it can be an effective way establish “name recognition.” But there is an unattractive connotation with the idea. Think about it: When we see an ad on Instagram, we swipe quickly past, and when a jingle for dog food comes on the radio, we groan and change the channel.

Free media is different. There is no payment for a spot in a magazine, only persuasion for one. Our job as public relations agents is to convince journalists and editors why our stories matter, so when our articles are published, they are endorsed by the print media, not paid to be there.

This third-party validation is everything. If Fred the Barber pays for an ad in the newspaper, he doesn’t cut it out, frame it and show all his customers. But if Fred the Barber is nominated and wins Barber of the Year in the Los Angeles Times, you can bet that recognition will be on his wall.

As a result, publicity is usually more “bang for your buck.” Not only is the press that’s generated by PR agents free (meaning no one pays publications for it to appear) but it is meaningful. So, turn down that radio ad and swipe away on Instagram and, the next time you’re faced with the age-old marketing dilemma of “To Advertise or Not to Advertise,” consider free media as a more effective way to boost your company’s presence.

Interested in speaking with free media experts? Call us and we will answer any of your PR questions.