There are several different types of media coverage that businesses seek. Each has its on type of message and readership. Which one(s) might work for you depend on your message, contacts and budget.
An advertisement is a (usually) paid campaign that influences a potential consumer to action. Advertisements could be anything from clickable banners on a website to a full page ad in a national magazine. Generally speaking, you are in charge of the content and how it is portrayed in the medium of your choosing. You are paying for the space and can put what you want into it. The major roadblock to advertisements the upfront cost.
The viability of a particular advertisement is determined by its "return on investment (ROI)." In other words, how much did you spend and how much did you make in sales? If you choose to pay for advertising, having an excellent method in place to track your ROI is imperative. Otherwise you could end up in a losing proposition - paying out more than you get back.
News stories are found in newspapers, on the radio or on television. They are generally short-lived and are supposedly "timely". While news outlets tend to focus on "hard news" (accidents, arrests, fires, etc.), they also publish "human interest" stories about a current event of some kind, such as a new store opening, volunteerism, or awards won. A new product announcement might be considered "news" in certain specialty publications, but is generally not considered news in traditional news outlets.
To bring a current event about your business to the attention of the media, the most common way is with a press release. When the media outlet receives the press release, they may print it as-is, or contact you for additional inforamtion, or just ignore it. Local media outlets (the home-town paper or local radio station) are more likely to carry local human interest stories. Regional, state or national news outlets tend to go for news stories that have wide appeal. The HSCG has created a number of ready-to-go press release templates that you can use to get started.
General Interest Article
A general interest article is one that is generally published in a magazine or website that covers a particular subject more in depth than a news story. Depending on the policies and coverage of the magazine or website, they tend toward articles that resonate with their particular audience. Getting an article about your business positively featured in a regional or national magazine or on a heavily trafficked website is probably one of the most effective public relations moves you can make.
While news stories and general interest articles are "unbiased," an editorial is an outrightly opinionated rejoinder or commentary on your business or a product or both. An editorial, whether in digital or standard print media, is often an incredible way to market your products. Editorials have a far bigger reach than standard corporate advertising, as well as greater influence with your audience and consumers. For the most part, this type of media coverage cannot be bought. The opinions of the writer are just that. Thus, they inspire a trust amongst readers advertising cannot and why it is imperative that your product(s) be without flaw, as the editorial coverage could be negative if your product is not the very best version of itself.
Sending out press releases is unlikely to generate an editorial. Sending a press kit with a product or product sample will probably be more effective, although it often still requires care, communication, and hard work to beat out the competition for a coveted editorial review of your products. See 5 Steps to Getting Your Soap & Cosmetics FEATURED tips. To get you started, the HSCG has developed an exclusive list of bloggers who want to review products made by HSCG members (see the Beauty Box Program).
The Sneaky Combo
If you look carefully through the hottest magazine publications and blogs, you will notice the growing trend of advertisements that mimic editorials. This is a clever marketing tool for introducing your product to a large audience who will actually pay more attention than when using standard ads and could generate a much better ROI than traditional advertising.