While a placement in the New York Times is a tremendous accomplishment for many PR professionals (including myself) and the kind of coverage companies dream of, we cannot underestimate the power local media can have on an organization’s communications strategy.
As a former local TV journalist, I love leveraging hyper-local outreach with clients who want to gain more exposure in the geographic areas they serve. This is because many of these publications have a true pulse on what matters to their communities and are often searching high and low for their next story to tell.
Before considering local media as part of your earned media strategy, here are some guidelines to creating the perfect localized story about your company that reporters want to tell.
Identify your local market’s coverage area
Before reaching out to local media, you must understand the coverage area of the local publication you’re targeting. I often pull up a map to get a better sense of the local market and what hyper-local communities are located within that market. This is especially helpful when we’re working with clients with multiple offices or locations. From there, I spend time researching the local publication to determine whether or not it has recently covered that specific community or subject matter that I have in mind to share.
For example, Indianapolis TV stations broadcast as far north as Logansport and as far south as Seymour. That is a lot of land for a local TV station to cover. If you’re approaching an Indianapolis station about news that mainly impacts northern Indiana, they’re very likely going to disregard that announcement when it’s time to produce their evening newscast. Having this insight in mind helps us better strategize what local publications and reporters we want to reach out to with a story.
Find your localized hook
The most important part of any localized story is finding out how the story impacts the reporter’s local area and why local citizens will care. One of the top complaints from journalists about PR pitches is that sometimes they receive story ideas that aren’t applicable to residents in their coverage area, or the idea is too broad or niche to be relevant to their audience.
To better connect your story to a local market, we often leverage data because it provides valuable context about why local reporters should care about your story. By doing so, you can take a story that might have otherwise only been covered by a regional or trade publication and turn it into one that is highlighted in local outlets.
Make it easy for the reporter to tell your story
It’s no secret local publications are struggling to do more with less as resources are becoming increasingly limited. Knowing this, it’s important to do everything you can to make the reporter’s job as easy as possible. Do you have any photo or video assets that you can share with your story idea? Who is your company’s spokesperson that is willing and available to hop on the phone or meet a reporter at a moment’s notice for an interview?
These are just a few of the important considerations to make when reaching out to local reporters. Paving the way with what they need to put together a stellar story increases your chances of them taking interest in your organization.