A common saying in business development is “it takes just as much time to do a large deal as it does to do a small one.” So, too, can it be just as difficult to convince a reporter to cover you for a local community publication as for a major national one.
And with more than 11,000 newspapers, 14,728 TV stations and 1,780 radio stations in the country, you may feel overwhelmed about the best way to go about it, especially when crunched for time.
Here are some ways to maximize your efforts when pitching local media:
* Find Timely Hooks: Your overall media plan should take into consideration any timely hooks you can use to sell your story. Certain hooks — such as New Year’s Resolutions or 4th of July barbecues — are perennial favorites that are uniform across markets. The timing for other news hooks — such as the back-to-school season or mitigating natural disaster threats to one’s home — can vary regionally. Plan your pitch in advance so you don’t miss key opportunities. Consider that many print publications have long lead times for feature stories.
* Multiply Your Efforts: Some smaller media outlets are part of larger regional networks that share resources and run overlapping content. Consider approaching a syndicated writer or broadcast host whose coverage of your topic will be seen or heard in more than one place. Your one pitch could translate to several local media placements.
* Prioritize Key Publications: Be strategic in your outreach. Consider personally pitching local outlets in the same hometown as your brand; or those in the town from which your CEO hails, for a hometown hero angle. Prioritize those key markets in which a product may be launching first, or which may be especially receptive to it.
* Think Geography: What may seem perfectly appropriate to a Florida paper may be of little use to an Alaskan readership. Avoid a monolithic approach to your outreach, which could get your pitch tossed in the trash. Always take geography into consideration.
* Consider Small Outlet Realities: Journalists at lots of local community media outlets have to wear more than one hat. Many weekly newspaper editors also are “on press” one day a week — most often Wednesdays — to supervise the actual printing of their newspapers. And some local radio journalists pull double-duty as on-air hosts during key dayparts (such as drive time), while also serving as news director or station manager. Know these realities before you lob in a call, and jump off the phone quickly if the target in question is occupied and wearing his or her other hat.
* Get Special: Remember to ask about special interest publications, as almost all community newspapers publish special sections (e.g. Back to School, Spring Home & Garden, Holiday Guides, etc.). Many also have specialty sister publications like local Healthy Living or Home & Garden specialty magazines. The same journalists are often assigned to both or sit a stone’s throw away from the person in charge of these specialty publications.
* Reach More Editors with Your Content: When a one-on-one pitch can’t be done, reaching editors through a content creation and distribution service can help, such as our very own StatePoint Media service. Such content typically offers readers timely and helpful “news they can use” in Feature Stories and Mat Releases, Infographics, and Listicles, while spotlighting your offerings. Such formats best catch the attention of local editors who need stories that provide tangible information their readers can use in their daily lives.
To help, StatePoint Media has written a free eBook offering details and analysis of the local media landscape, along with more tips for integrating more local coverage into your PR strategy.
By mixing some additional local outreach into your existing media plans, you’ll be on your way to building or expanding your brand through quality media placements in smaller, local publications nationwide.
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