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Why you shouldn’t ignore local news

Local media outlets are often forgotten when businesses are putting together their public relations (PR) strategy, but thinking closer to home can produce excellent publicity benefits.

Newspapers, radio, television, magazines, and websites in your town or suburb all count on good local news content. If you’re not providing that news, who is? Your competitors.

Why go local?

The difference between your local media outlets and those who broadcast or distribute nationally is that their niche is your geographic area. They cover news items affecting the community, its residents, and its businesses. If you operate your business locally, they want to hear from you.

Benefits of local media coverage

Local media will go into more personal detail in profiling you or your business than their national counterparts, so it’s a chance to stand out in your community. If the target market for your business is local, then media in your area can actually be better for you than an article in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Crafting a local pitch

Remember you are pitching to your local media so you need to craft the message to show why local readers, viewers, or listeners will be interested in your story. Make sure to include the local angle prominently.

It’s a good idea to run over your pitch before sending or calling the journalist, asking yourself these questions:

•    Is my story newsworthy?
•    Is the local angle relevant?
•    Is my story different from other stories covered by this media outlet recently?

It also helps to know exactly who to send your pitch to. Read through the newspaper or magazine, listen to the radio and watch the television news to see the sorts of stories these outlets cover and which journalist covers them. Once you have a name it is much easier to make your pitch more personal. If you don’t have the journalist or editor’s name, contact the reception or editorial assistant and ask.

Think visually

Pictures often tell the story better than words so consider deadlines and other constraints when planning photo opportunities for local media. Like all media, your local outlets are often run with the absolute minimum number of staff so if they can’t make it to an event you are running, make sure to provide a great photo to accompany your story. This can sometimes make the difference between being featured and having no coverage at all.

It’s still about relationships

When it comes to pitching to the media some things are still the same whether you’re pitching locally or nationally, the main point is to build relationships.

Before you start pitching to any media outlet it pays to build a rapport with the journalist. For example, you could monitor the Facebook or Twitter accounts of local media outlets and respond to posts. Alternatively, you could introduce yourself when you meet them at a chamber of commerce or business event. Like any relationship it always works better when you’re face-to-face, so offer to do the interview in person as much as possible.

Local story angles

•    Fundraiser where your business will donate money, goods, or services to a local charity, such as the CEO Sleepout or donating canned food for a can drive.
•    Your business, or you as the owner, has received an award.
•    How your business is involved in an awareness day, week, or month. For example RSPCA Cupcake Day or Pink Ribbon Month.
•    Giving a national news story a local angle by suggesting ways it could be followed up using your business as a case study, or your expertise inform the community on the issue.
•    An event your business is running or sponsoring locally.
•    How your nursery business donated vegetable seedlings to the local school for its garden.
•    How you created a new product or service that will benefit the community and quantify how it helps.

Catriona Pollard is the director of CP Communications.

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