Before you ask for free media, you have to do a little homework.
First, look to other organizations like yourself and other major organizations that you’d like to emulate and see who their media sponsors are. They’re usually listed on their event web page. Then, find out who handles the Public Service Advertising for the major media companies in town (usually the front desk person will know.)
Based on which media you’re interested in, you’ll know what kind of free things to ask for. For print, review their media kits prior (you can normally find them on their web site) so that if you want a full page or a half page you’ll know how much in media value to ask for. For TV/radio/OOH/online it’s a little more tricky. They can adjust rates to fit needs and, most of the time, use the open rate to calculate the value. But, most of the time, reaching a minimum of $5,000 in media value is pretty easy for them to do.
How much to ask for. It’s always a better bet to come up with levels of donation than to leave it open for interpretation by the media outlet themselves. If you just say, “can we have things for free” it’s a lot harder for them to actually come up with something than saying, “can we have x and y, please.” So I’d recommend having levels of media sponsorship that they can select based on how much availability they have at the time you need it and on how gung-ho they are for your organization. The first level should be really easy to hit for the media you’re going after and shouldn’t make it uncomfortable for print to find space or for broadcast to over-commit. The next level should make the media company put a little more attention into what they’re giving you and when, but only rise above their comfort level enough to get you more of what you want. The final level should be close to the pain point of giving free stuff away. Here, you would call those media sponsors who reach this level as signature, platinum, premier, etc and get all of Gives and Gets.
What are Gives and Gets, you say? Next week’s post will explain. So stay tuned. 😉