empty pocket and no news to write aboutOne of the biggest myths of press releases is that they must contain news.

That was true two decades ago when we wrote press releases primarily for journalists and we had to worry about insulting them with trivia about our business.

But now that we post them online, mostly to pull traffic to our websites, we’re free to write about whatever we wish.

Here, then, are 13 press release topics when your pockets are empty and there’s absolutely nothing newsworthy to write about. They’re excerpted from my free email course on 89 Ways to Write Powerful Press Releases. (PR people, take the course to sharpen your press release skills. And then use the tips below when you’re scrounging for ideas to publicize your clients.)

Publicity Hounds who have a subscription to Expertclick, The Yearbook of Experts, which lets you post up to 52 press releases a year, will find these tips particularly helpful.

1.  Take a Stand on a Controversial Topic

Controversial topics can include everything from the old standbys such as abortion and gun control to local issues like proposed zoning laws.

When you’re done with the press release, generate extra publicity by writing a letter to the editor of your local or national newspaper. How to Use Newspaper & Magazine Editorial Pages shows you all the ways you can rally support for your cause or issue by using editorial pages, from writing letters to asking for a meeting with the newspaper editorial board.

2.  Write About Your Blog 

If you’ve started blogging for business, write a press release about it so people who want information on your topic can find it. Or devote the release to some of the things you mentioned in a specific post.

This blog, for example, helps people solve problems writing press releases, and I encourage people to submit questions to me. It also teaches people how to use social media sites to self-promote. I could write two press releases, or more, just telling reades about ways they can use this blog. You can, too.

Visit other bloggers who blog on the same topic, or a similar topic, and post comments at their blogs. By linking back to your blog from your comments, you will improve the page ranking of your own blog.

3. Lead Readers to Free Articles at Your Website

If you have free articles that solve people’s problems, or entertain them, say so.

Are your articles arranged by category? Are they updated monthly? Do you let the media, ezine publishers, newsletter editors and bloggers reprint them? Do you feature articles from other industry experts?

4. Tell People Where to Find You on Social Media Sites

Smart Publicity Hounds use Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Quora profiles to position themselves as the go-to sources in their industries.

Do you post your photos and videos to Flickr? Do you have a YouTube channel chock full of helpful how-to videos? (Here’s mine.)

5.  Create Your Own Holiday

Create your own day, week or month of the year, or your own holiday, at Chases Calendar of Events. The listing is free. You can then use that holiday as a springboard to even more publicity.

The topic doesn’t have to be serious. In fact, the more fun, the better. I love Doing Business in Your Bathrobe Day.

6. Make a Prediction

Predict something that ties into your area of expertise—or not.

Predict when gasoline prices, the stock market or interest rates will rise and fall. For fun, predict who will win the Super Bowl or when the first snowfall will occur in your area. Predict the winner of local or national elections.

7. Issue a Proclamation

Congratulate the local high school football team for winning a state title, or a local business for celebrating its 10th anniversary.

8. Write Tips That Tie into an Upcoming Holiday

Professional orgnizers can write about how to stay organized during the Christmas holidays. A child safety expert can offer tips on how to keep kids safe during fireworks season on the Fourth of July.

9.  Identify A Trend You’re Seeing in Your Business or Industry

You don’t even have to think very hard to identify a trend you’re seeing. How has your customers’ behavior changed the way you do business? What’s happening with your orders? Is your nonprofit serving more people in a particular age group or income level?

If you want to cheat, Google “Top trends in the (fill in the blank) industry” and write about one of those.

10.  Comment on Breaking News

This one’s easy. The news can tie into your business or industry—or not. If you’re an expert who welcomes interview requests for radio talk shows, say so in the release. See 6 ways to tie your pitch to breaking news for PR and publicity.

11. What Event Are You Attending?

Most people don’t think it’s a big deal if they attend a trade show or industry conference. But why not turn this into a publicity opportunity?

Write a press release telling people that you’d welcome meeting them. Encourage them to ask you questions about problems they’re facing.

12. Take a Poll or Survey

Sites like Survey Monkey make simple polling a breeze.  You can also take a poll on Facebook. Don’t forget to write a follow-up press release that reports on the results of the poll.

13. Explain How to Solve a Problem

Press releases offering tips and advice are often the very best for pulling traffic to your website. That’s becauase you can dazzle readers with your expertise, help them solve their problem, and then link to a website where they can find more information about a product or service you sell that can help them even more.

What topics do you write about when the idea well is dry?