The best free publicity tool you’ve never heard of

By Lori

Free Publicity - USNPL

“Roommate wanted.”

I see a version of that request at least once a week on forums across the web. (And no, it’s not some Tinder-esque come on.)

The “roommate” request is just a cheeky euphemism for sharing a media database. It’s something solo public relations professionals and small PR companies do, to offset the cost of subscribing to professional media databases.

Publicists and PR agencies spend thousands annually for subscriptions to popular PR databases. (For those who are new to the PR game, a PR database contains the names of media outlets, like magazines and websites, along with contact information for the outlet’s journalists and editors.)

Prices for some of the market-leading subscriptions can range from $2000 to $12,000 a year. If you’re spending most of your day finding and pitching media for coverage, that’s not bad. Spread across multiple clients, it definitely makes sense. But for professionals and small business owners, it can be overkill.

How about a much less expensive alternative? As in completely f-r-e-e!

USNPL - US Newspaper List

It’s USNPL, aka the US Newspapers List. However, it’s so much more than newspapers – USNPL is a free database of television station, radio station and newspaper contacts. (US only, though.) But wait, there’s more: the site also has a list of colleges by state, along with their newspapers.

How USNPL works

The USNPL site features contact information, mailing addresses for US newspapers, radio and TV stations. Looking for online media? Start here.

Most entries have links to:

  • The outlet’s website
  • Contact information, including address, phone, fax, and manager/editor
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Video

The newspapers section event has a link to Local Weather & Forecast.

Free media resource USNPL - links to newspapers' websites, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube

Plus, for only $40, you can download the mailing addresses and phone numbers of over 1000 television stations. (Giddiness, people! That’s what you’re feeling.)

Because USNPL lets media contacts update their own entries, it’s remarkably accurate for a completely free resource.

What you can do with it

The site lets you search for contact info for U.S. newspapers, TV stations and radio stations by state. Once you get a list of outlets, you can go directly to the media outlet’s website, or click on links to their Facebook pages and Twitter feeds.

Beef up your local media outreach

Pick your target media outlets and follow them on Twitter. Re-tweet, reply to and comment on their tweets. Build, build, build that relationship, people.

Lather, rinse and repeat for Facebook.

Share their YouTube videos.

Make a splash in a new city

Let’s say that you work for a company planning to open an office in a new city in a few months. Plan ahead and build those relationships now!

Look up the media outlets in that county and start gathering contact information, reading the articles, watching the news reports and creating relationships with the newsmakers through social media.

Then, when your new office opens, you’ll be positioned to get more than the perfunctory press release mention.

Author or speaker traveling to another city?

If you already have a visit to another city on your schedule, try the same approach as above. Find the contacts and create some warm relationships. Then, a few weeks before your visit, pitch a segment for their local morning show or an article about your speaking appearance in the local paper.

When you add USNPL to some of the other top free media tools, like HARO and MuckRack, you’ve got an amazing roster of resources. Use them to get your message into the minds of people who need it, wouldya please?!

Your fame boosting assignment:

There are sooo many ways you can use the USNPL goldmine. Pick one goal – say, increasing your local media presence or warming up a new city before your debut – and spend the next ten minutes finding media outlets and following them on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

We’re waiting for more of your magic.

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