The best advertising that green industry professionals can't buy is free publicity. And the opportunities to get that publicity are abundant.

As lawn and landscape, or garden center or nursery professionals, you have what the media needs: insights about timely and topical subjects that readers, viewers and listeners care about a great deal. Subjects like drought-resistant plants, insect control, irrigation, sustainable landscapes, composting and a whole lot more.

Consider the challenges of a producer of a gardening show on TV or radio, or the editor of the home section of the local newspaper, or a leading industry blogger. Every week they have to come up with relevant material to fill time and space.

"No amount of advertising will ever build the credibility of one well-positioned article or presentation," says Tony Bass, a national landscape business consultant.

They are always on the lookout for industry experts who can comment on what's new, what's now and what's newsworthy on topics ranging from organic weed control to outdoor kitchens, from plants to pollination.

Offer yourself as a resource for story ideas and interviews to those online, print and broadcast outlets that reach out to your best prospects. Develop a database of local reporters, writers, editors, bloggers and broadcasters who follow the green industry, and update them regularly on what's in, what's out, what's hot and what's not in outdoor living, lawn care, backyard gardening and more.

Looking back on my 25-year career as a print and broadcast journalist, I remember that finding interview sources was among my most critical and constant responsibilities.

It's a win-win relationship. The media needs you and your industry insights to lend credibility to their shows and articles, as much as you need them to help promote yourself and your company.

Meanwhile, you can easily increase your visibility for your company, garden center or nursery by submitting media releases. Every time you win an award, host an event, speak to a garden club, launch a new product or service, add staff, sign a major new client, etc., that's news. It's the kind of news that online and traditional media will run on a regular basis.

Writing articles, columns and blog posts is an outstanding way for horticulture professionals to establish their expertise and differentiate themselves from competitors.

While the article conveys your know-how and positions you as an authority, the "about the author" section at the end gets your phone ringing. Use this section to include your complete contact information and maybe even a call to action: register for this, download that, call for a consultation, etc.

You need not be a polished writer to develop content for the media. The key is to be able to share tips, trends and techniques in an interesting, nontechnical way. Timing is everything: the more you can relate your information to stories in the news today — such as a seasonal event or the recent heat wave or a downturn in the local economy the better the chances your story will be published.

Bottom line: There are numerous ways to use the media to share your knowledge and promote yourself in the process.

Free publicity is an example of "smart marketing" at its best for outdoor professionals. It enables them to reach a sizeable audience and make a major promotional impact for a minimal investment of time and money.