Getting yourself local media coverage can seem like a daunting task.
But if you want to invest in public relations, learning how to deal with the media and working with them in a way that encourages them to tell your story is absolutely vital.
In this post, we’ll walk through some of the tactics we’re using to help tell our client’s stories in a local context and provide you with some powerful tools to make the process easier and more effective overall.
When push comes to shove, we believe that effectively getting placed in local media comes down to five key components:
- Knowing the state of local media
- Having a good story to tell
- Doing your research
- Pitching well
- Building relationships
We’ve got a lot to cover, so let’s dive in.
The Current State of Local Media
In order to achieve success pitching local media, you must first understand the state of the industry and the mindset of local reporters and editors.
News is now more accessible than ever before. Over the last few decades, consumers have become less dependent on local outlets to keep them updated on what is happening and more reliant on digital platforms, social media and direct-to-consumer channels.
Additionally, the advent of smartphones and digital media means that most news breaks within minutes of the actual event, and growing internet accessibility and speed means that most people can access that news instantaneously.
That’s good news for the consumer -- but it’s made things tough for local media. They simply can’t compete with national news outlets to deliver breaking news, and they don’t have the budget to create dynamic digital versions of their sites. There’s just no way Glendale, Arizona’s local paper can compete with the New York Times, CNN or Fox News.
This has led to some pretty dramatic cuts to local newsrooms. According to a recent PEW survey, employment in newsrooms has dropped more than 23% in the last 10 years.
So, what does this mean for you? Well, first and foremost, it means that there are simply fewer local reporters available to cover your story -- which in turn leads to greater competition for the attention of those reporters.
At this point, you might be wondering if pitching to the local media is even worth your time. There seem to be a lot of hurdles and obstacles involved in potentially getting a story that’s likely not going to be viewed on a national level.
The short answer to the question is yes. It is definitely worth your time to pitch your story to the local media. Local newsrooms might be shrinking, but so is public trust in the national media.
The 2016 election brought a number of tumultuous changes to the country, but one of the biggest things that it exposed was the proliferation of “fake news,” especially on social media. This breach of trust left a bad taste in the mouth of most consumers that still hasn’t gone away. As a matter of fact, according to the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer Global Report, only 34% of Americans trust what they read on social media.
This is bad news for big social media companies and media outlets that rely on posting breaking news to those platforms, but it’s great news for local papers. While trust in social media has diminished, trust in traditional media has increased. For the first time since 2012, Americans trust the information they get from traditional media outlets as much as they trust the results from an online search.
Trust in traditional media has trickled down to the local level. Research done by Poynter.org found that 76% of Americans trust local television news and 73% their local newspapers. That’s over 20% higher than their trust in national news.
Furthermore, local coverage often feeds national outlets. The old adage “press begets press” still holds true. If a reporter decides to share your story in the local paper, there’s a chance a bigger outlet with a wider reach could pick it up as well.
But even if it doesn’t, local coverage can be beneficial in itself, because it directly reaches the people in your community or the people who are likely going to care the most about your story.
So is it still worth pitching your story to local news? Absolutely.
Now the question is, how do you get there?
Telling the Right Story
The key component of getting yourself into local media is a story. Good stories are like the foundation of a house. If that foundation is flawed or cracked, it will compromise the rest of the home. In the same way, if your story isn’t strong, your whole pitch will be weak.
The issue that many people run into when they’re trying to pitch the local media is that they simply don’t tell a compelling story. Local reporters and editors are paid to tell stories and they’re always on the hunt for something new, exciting and interesting that’s going to capture the attention of their viewers, readers or listeners.
That’s a huge opportunity for you -- but it means you have to convince them that the story you’re trying to tell is actually worth telling.
Here’s the simple truth of the matter: Unless you’re a massive consumer brand like Apple or Instagram, the local media doesn’t exist to promote your products or services for free. If you reach out to a local reporter and send them a list of the reasons why your plumbing business is so great or why people should come out to the grand opening of your bakery, there’s almost a guarantee your request is going to go no further than the reporter’s junk email folder.
If you want to simply tell people how great you are, almost every media outlet has advertising opportunities that you can use to your advantage. However, if you’re looking to get your businesses’ story into the local news, you’ve got to be much more strategic.
Studies have found that 44% of journalists get pitched more than 20 times every single day, which means that there are at least 20 potential stories sitting in their inboxes all screaming for attention. Combine this with the fact that the average person spends about 11 seconds reading an email and that means that you have a very limited, very competitive window for your pitch to be read. Half-hearted, bulk or spammy pitch emails just won’t cut it.
That’s the hard news.
The good news, at least for you, is that half-hearted and spammy emails are the norm among inexperienced people trying to get media coverage. There’s plenty of opportunity for you to stand out from among the crowd if you’re able to communicate your message in a new and compelling way.
Don’t send a single email until you’ve identified and mastered your brand’s story.
Every business has a story to tell -- yours included. Before you expect people to write about it, you need to identify what it is, why people should care about it and how you can tell it creatively.
Here’s an example:
Say that you’re opening up a new bakery in your hometown. It’s an old-fashioned, quaint mom-and-pop shop with no fancy equipment, no new culinary technology, no other full-time employees -- really nothing at all that would perk up the ears of a local news reporter.
So how would you get a reporter to write about you?
Should you reach out to them and tell them that you make fresh bread every morning and you’re willing to offer a 10% discount to anyone who comes out on opening day? Well, Panera already does that, so it’s not really news.
No, you should tell them your story. Share your vision in a way that’s compelling and helps them see it in the same way that you do.
Tell them about how your shop, while small and new, is a dream come true for you. Tell them how you’ve spent decades saving and planning to build this from the ground up. How you’re using recipes that have been passed down in your family for generations. How every loaf of bread, every cupcake is made with love and meticulous care. How you want other people to experience the joy that you have in baking.
Of course, we all don’t own bakeries. Some of us own software companies, some of us are spine surgeons, some of us pour concrete. But in the end, it doesn’t really matter what you do, because every brand, including yours, has a story. There is a reason you built your business. What is it that you do that is different, new and innovative? How are you using your business to change your community? Your state? Your country? That is the kind of story that’s worth telling.
If you need help putting words to your story, drop us a line.
Do Your Research
The vast majority of people trying to get media coverage will take the “see what sticks” method to their pitching. Basically, they get the email of any reporter they can find and send them a pitch, regardless of the beat they actually cover. They assume that, eventually, they’ll find someone who’s interested in creating a piece about them, or they’ll pass along the story to someone who is.
That’s simply not true.
Here’s the thing: you get upset when people try to sell you something that has absolutely no relevance to you whatsoever, right? So why would a reporter feel any differently?
Answer: they don’t.
Before you ever send an email asking for a reporter to cover you or mention you in a story, you do your research.
Research gets a bad reputation because most people perceive it as time-consuming and unnecessary. This is anything but true. There are some easy, simple ways to do your research and the results will speak for themselves.
We’ve broken these down below:
Where Will Your Story be Told?
Spend a little time thinking about what medium is best for telling your story.
For most people, the obvious answer is TV. But the thing you need to understand about TV is that no matter how dramatic or powerful your story seems to you, it will likely be condensed and edited to fit the time slot the outlet has available -- usually no more than a couple of minutes. So while your story will reach a lot of people, it won’t give them the deep-dive into all the details that you might want to share. Another important element to consider is that TV is, no surprise, a visual medium, meaning that interesting images are vital to helping you get coverage. Do you have a bunch of people sitting in cubicles working on computers? Probably not a great visual element for TV. On the other hand, if you have an interesting, unique product that looks great when you’re demonstrating it, that does make for good TV. You need to look at your business and determine whether or not your story has a visual component. If not, you’re not out of options.
This is where print and online media, like your local newspaper or local online outlet, come in handy. They can provide visual mediums with their stories but they’re not as essential as television and they can afford to dig deeper.
Once you’ve determined the kind of outlet that you want to pitch, it’s time to figure out who specifically you think should see your story.
Know Who to Pitch
One of the biggest mistakes people make when they’re first pitching is to send a pitch to the wrong person. We’ve already discussed why you shouldn’t just send a pitch to the first email address you discover. In the same way, it pays to be thoughtful about who specifically at a media organization you’re sending your pitch to.
In general, print and online reporters are all pitchable. Most of them are responsible for coming up with the content for their articles and generally have the flexibility to write about what they want in their beat. You should definitely pitch print and online reporters directly.
However, things are a little different for TV and radio stations. Typically, these shows are pre-determined by a group of producers who slot everything out by time. Although reporters, are sent to cover the story, they themselves typically don’t have as much say over what they cover.
Your best bet is to pitch the folks who run the news desk or help produce the show you want to be featured on.
Trying to send an email to Oprah Winfrey herself likely isn’t going to get you far.
When you’re looking for folks to pitch at these outlets, try to search for job titles like “Producer” or “News Desk” or “Assignment Desk Editor” -- anything that shows the person has some power over what gets shown on the air.
Finally, it’s time to figure out how to research your reporter or media contact.
How to Research a Reporter:
Before you begin, pull up our media list template and save a copy to your Google Drive or download it as an Excel document on your computer.
Media lists are incredibly important for a couple of reasons. First, they allow you to keep track of everyone you’re pitching and put all their relevant information in one place. Secondly, it can serve as a valuable resource to you in the future as you’re looking to get more stories placed in the local media.
1. Identify a local news outlet or local blog that covers the topic you want coverage on.
For example, if you’re a local bakery that’s about to open, try to find a publication that writes about local businesses, food or even coffee. You’ll be surprised at how many you’ll find in your general vicinity.
You can start your search by typing “media in [insert your city here] Wikipedia” into Google, navigating to Wikipedia and taking a look at all the results that pull up.
This will likely be an updated, comprehensive view of all the media outlets and publications that are in your area. Also, be sure to click the “List of Local Newspapers in [city name] link that appears on the page.
This will show you all the print publications that are around you. Now, take a look at each of these news outlets and publications and add the ones that are relevant to your media list as potential places to pitch.
2. Go through each of these outlets and identify specific people who have written or covered topics like yours in the past or have a beat that falls into your niche.
You’ll probably find 1-2 depending on the size of the outlet.
For example, say that your bakery is opening in Northern Virginia and you’re looking for a reporter to write about the grand opening. You’ve found the Washingtonian, a local print and online outlet in the D.C. area, and you see that one reporter has written several times about bakeries in the past. Great! Add them to your spreadsheet.
3. Start searching for their contact information.
A lot of reporters will include their email address somewhere in articles they have written. The first place to look is the “byline”, the section in almost every news article that names the reporter that wrote it. Occasionally, their name is hyperlinked and will either take you to their email address or a bio page that will give their contact information. Also, try scrolling down to the bottom of the article. Sometimes, reporters will leave their email address here.
For example, that’s what the Washingtonian does in their articles.
If you’re not having any luck with this, check and see if the outlet has an “Our Team” section or “Contact Us” page that lists out the contact information for individual reporters.
If this yields no results, it’s time to get a little more creative. Studies have found journalists make up the largest category of Twitter’s verified users and are the most active group on Twitter.
That means the reporter you’re looking to contact likely has a Twitter account. Grab their name and plug it into Twitter’s search function and see if you can find it. There’s a good chance that it’s going to appear first in the results, and if they’re at a syndicated outlet, it will likely be verified.
When you get to the right Twitter account the first thing you’ll want to check is their bio. This will usually help verify the reporter’s identity and, if you’re lucky, even give you an email address.
If there’s nothing there, head to Google. Paste the reporter's name into the search engine and include “email” along with it. There’s a pretty good chance they’ve replied to a tweet or listed their email address somewhere online.
If, after all of this, you still can’t find an email address, grab the links to their Twitter and Linkedin accounts and add them to your spreadsheet.
Okay. You’ve done your research and identified a number of local reporters that follow and write on the topic you’re pitching. Now it’s time to pitch.
How to Pitch Local Media Well
A lot of people often view pitching like getting a shot at the doctor's office: it’s really not something that you want to do, but you need to do it in order to stay alive.
But pitching doesn’t have to be something that you’re afraid of. Just as with a shot, you’ll often find in the moment that it’s really not that bad as you thought it would be, and the benefits far outweigh the costs.
The key is that you have to do it right. Fortunately, you’ve already done all the hard prep work. Now comes the easy part:
Pitch One Outlet at a Time
In some ways, pitching is a lot like going on a date. You’re opening yourself up to a reporter and you’re both trying to decide whether or not you’re compatible with one another.
Now, you wouldn’t (and shouldn’t) try to date two people at the same time; It almost inevitably sets you up for confusion and frustration. In the same way, you shouldn’t flaunt your story to multiple reporters at the same time.
Media outlets are businesses and business must stay ahead of their competition in order to survive. News stations are competing with one another for viewers, online publications are competing with one another for users, radio news stations are competing with one another for listeners and so on. They’re looking to break news and tell stories that their competition isn’t.
That means to a reporter it looks as though you’re trying to “play the field” when you pitch multiple people, and they’d probably cut your client from their story.
Focus on pitching one reporter at a time with your story. If they don’t respond after a couple of follow-ups (we’ll get to that in a second) or they outright say they’re not interested, scratch their name off the list and move on to the next person.
Customize Your Pitch
Have you ever received a piece of mail that says, “To Current Resident” or opened a marketing email only to find that your name is spelled wrong?
What do you typically do with those kinds of promotions? Probably delete them or throw them in the trash, where they belong.
It’s the same with pitching a reporter. When you send a generic email, you’re essentially telling the person reading it that you’ve spent absolutely no time reading their content, you don’t really care what they write about, and that all you want is for them to write a story about you.
Unfortunately, that’s the route that most people take when they’re pitching. They create an email template, change out the name in the beginning and call it a day.
Sometimes, they even forget to do that, which can lead to humiliating mistakes.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with having a template for your pitch, but you should be customizing a lot more than just the name at the beginning.
There are some simple ways that you can customize your pitch to help it feel more personal and prove that you’ve actually done your research. Here are a few ideas:
Write an Awesome Pitch
No matter how cool your client or how interesting your story, the fact of the matter is that the quality of your pitch will decide whether or not you get placed. Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all format when it comes to pitching. Like we’ve mentioned above, the specific content of your pitch is going to depend on your story, the outlet, the reporter, the current news cycle and more. But there are a couple of key elements that you should keep in mind as you’re writing to make sure that your reporter is getting key information right off the bat.
If you leave this section with one piece of information, it’s this: keep your pitch short.
Reporters will not, we repeat, will not read your entire email. It just doesn’t happen. Therefore, the longer your email, the more opportunity you have for some important information to get missed. Keep your email between 150-200 words, maximum.
Here’s how you should try and structure your pitch:
Paragraph 1: Intro/Hook
Paragraph 2: Pertinent information (include bullet points)
Paragraph 3: How you see segment panning out
Paragraph 4: Closing
First, start with your intro, otherwise known as a hook.
A hook is a piece of information, a shocking statistic, an exciting fact -- anything that will keep the reader from closing out of your email and forgetting about it for the rest of eternity. Your hook should be short, powerful and, most importantly, factual. Don’t lie in your hook simply to try and get some attention.
Use your hook to make your intentions clear right off the bat. Tell the reporter that you’re reaching out with a story idea and that what they’re about to read is a pitch. Try to hit as many as the 5 Ws -- who, what, when, where and why -- as you can in the first sentence. Above all, keep it brief, punchy and informative.
Once you have this sentence locked down, move on to your body paragraphs.
In this paragraph (no more than two or three sentences, maximum) start providing a little more context about the story. Explain why your story is relevant, include some more details and demonstrate the value of your message.
Sometimes in the second paragraph, it’s helpful if you bullet out your key points. You should have 3-5 in total.
This is a copywriting technique known as a “fascination” that works wonders. Fascinations are ways of formatting your text that naturally draw a reader's eye and helps them feel like they’re actually moving through your content. Bullet points accomplish this perfectly and work to:
- Catch the eye of a reader who’s skimming your content
- Summarize lengthy content
- List key elements of a document or pitch
Once you have some of your key points in a few bullet points, take one (not your most important, but also not your weakest) and remove it from your pitch.
Cut it and paste it into another document. You’ll need it later. For now, move onto the third paragraph.
This paragraph is pretty simple: find a way to connect your story to the reporter and help them see your vision of how the segment will pan out.
For example, if you’re inviting them to the grand opening of your bakery, tell them that you’d love to put them in an apron and have them help you whip up a batch of cupcakes for the morning rush. Give them visuals, get them excited to be a part of what you’re doing.
Finally, construct your closing paragraph.
This should be one sentence that asks them if they’re interested and gives them next steps.
Now, as you’re starting to write your pitch, you’ll realize that all the above is easier read than done. Getting your story condensed into 150-200 words is hard. Here are some techniques that have helped us along the way:
When you first sit down to write the first draft of your pitch, don’t hold yourself to a hard-and-fast word count. Don’t obsess over a word limit on your first pass. Rather, get all your thoughts out on paper and then go back and cut out the unnecessary points later.
It’s okay if it’s a couple hundred to a couple thousand words. This is just your first draft and simply a way to free you from the restraint of having to write a certain way for email.
As you’re writing, it’s important to keep a couple of key elements in mind:
- Don’t use loaded language like “talented,” “remarkable,” “guru,” “thought leader,” “expert,” “the ____ everyone is talking about,” etc. These are turn-offs because they’re filler words that mean almost nothing. We can also guarantee that not everyone is talking about you. Reporters go into pitches looking for PR spin and they’re good at spotting it, so don’t.
- Avoid spinning a yarn. Reporters are skimming your pitch, not reading it like their favorite novel. If it reads like a narrative, you’ll lose them. Let them see the story based on the facts you bullet out.
- You’re selling a story, not a product. This isn’t an advertisement for your brand, so don’t include marketing language in your pitch.
- Do not include hyperlinks in your pitch. Emails from unknown addresses that contain hyperlinks have a strong probability of going to a reporter’s spam box. If you don’t need hyperlinks, don’t use them. If you absolutely must include one, copy and paste the full link into the email. In our experience, this seems to help our delivery rate.
Once you’re comfortable with what you’ve put down, start cutting the non-pertinent information out. As you’re editing, ask yourself, will the reporter really care about this? Is it really critical to my story?
Remember that people only spend an average of 11 seconds reading their email. You only have moments to capture the interest of your reporter and give them the key details of your story. Do they really need to know that your cupcakes are sprinkled with gold dust and that the frosting is hand-battered for 12 hours? It may be a cool fact, but probably not.
Strive to look at your pitch from the reporter’s perspective. You think your story and brand is great, but they won’t -- at least not right off the bat. Spend some time thinking through what an ideal segment or news story would look like and help them catch that vision. Helping an editor or reporter visualize what your story would look like will help your chances dramatically.
If you find yourself struggling to pare down your pitch, hire and outside advisor, grab a colleague or friend and ask them to take a look. What strikes them as irrelevant or excessive? What do they think you could do without? Listen to their advice and follow it. They likely have a more objective, critical perspective than you and will help identify the fluff that will distract or annoy a reporter.
Once you have your pitch condensed into 150 words and free from copy and grammatical errors, come up with a powerful, catchy headline.
Write an Eye-Catching Subject Line
Your subject line is the first interaction a reporter is going to have with your story and is, ultimately, going to decide whether or not they open your pitch. Take the time to come up with something that’s going to stand out in a long list of emails.
When putting together your subject line, remember that over 60% of people open emails on their mobile phones, which show shorter headlines, so try to keep it within 4-8 words.
The best headlines are ones that take the most exceptional components of the story and instantly help the reporter imagine your piece. Think of what you’d want your headline to be in a news article.
Would you rather read an article entitled: “Local Bakery Opens”
“Alexandria Bakery Offers Second Chances to Disgraced Bakers.”
Chances are you like the second headline better -- and so will the reporter. It’s worth setting aside a few minutes to craft a subject line that is going to catch someone’s attention as they’re scrolling through their inbox.
Now, run through your pitch one more time and make sure there are no spelling or grammatical mistakes and that you have the reporter’s name and email address correct. Then, click send and prepare to follow-up.
Master the Follow-Up
Like you, reporters are busy and have a lot more on their plate than just writing a beautiful longform piece about how wonderful and amazing your brand is. Emails slip through the inbox or get opened and forgotten about. To err is human and that’s okay.
As a budding and fast-learning PR professional, you must strike a balance between being persistent and polite.
If the reporter doesn’t respond to your initial pitch, you don’t freak out and send them a sternly worded email about how they’re missing out on the story that’s going to make their career. Don’t send them 17 emails asking if they’ve read your previous email either.
You will almost never get a reporter to respond on the first email.
You’ve got to do a little prodding to get reporters to write about you. As a matter of fact, we’ve found that most of our local media hits come from the second email we send.
That’s why, at Pinkston, we use what we have dubbed the “Supplementary Followup Method” which has proven time and time again to work well for local and regional reporters.
Here’s how it works:
The Supplementary Follow-Up Method
Wait a day or two after you send your initial pitch. Give the reporter a little time to think about and respond to your email.
If they don’t respond, start putting together your follow-up email.
Click reply to your old email and write a brief sentence that gives your follow-up a little context.
Just wanted to follow up on my last email about [XXXXX].
Now, provide the reporter with a little added value. Remember when you cut out a bullet point from the second paragraph of your first pitch? Now’s the time to put it into the spotlight and add it right underneath your first paragraph.
Now, all of a sudden, you’ve turned an annoying, “hey, did you get my message?” email into something that actually interests and brings value to the reporter. That’s huge.
Finally, close your follow-up by giving them the best way to reach out to you so they can get more information about the story.
As you’re writing your follow-up, focus on explicitly stating how your story impacts your local community and the readers of the publication. Remember, reporters need people to read their stories, and people care the most about things that impact them directly. For example, you probably wouldn’t care too much about a school that won the state football championships against all odds. But you would definitely care if that high school was in your hometown and your kids went to it.
Emphasize to the reporter that your story has implications for their local audience.
Using the bakery example again, you might say something like, “The Grand Opening of Sprinkles on Main would interest your readers because it will provide an influx of new jobs to the community.” Or something along those lines.
Once you’ve crafted your follow-up, press send and wait.
Use Social Media to Your Advantage
Remember when we told you to put a reporter’s social media channels in your spreadsheet? That’s because reporters often share their work on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and maintain an active presence on those platforms.
Pitches made via social media have an excellent chance of being seen as people, are more inclined to investigate a social media notification than they are a new email. That said, the outreach should be concise and not seem overly advertorial, which can test your ability to cut the story down to the bare essentials. Develop a Tweet or comment that’s natural, conversational and doesn’t come off like marketing.
It’ll be hard, but it’s a good process to go through.
How to Handle Rejection
Ask anyone who’s been in PR more than a day and they’ll tell you that rejection is just a part of the business. Knowing what works and what doesn’t will help you be better at crafting your story and set you up for future success.
As you’re pitching, it’s important to note that a lot of reporters simply don’t have the time, to tell you that they’re not interested in your story. Like a date, typically not hearing back after a follow-up or two means that your story is probably not a good fit for the publication.
If a reporter declines to cover your story, don’t be discouraged. Instead, play the long game. They may not have accepted the idea at this time, but that doesn’t mean your story is bad. It could easily be that your timing was off. Odds are, sooner or later they will need a story and yours will be the one they tell.
Imagine you’re walking down the street one day and a complete stranger walks up to you and asks if you’d be willing to help move their grand piano to their 14th-floor apartment, for free.
Chances are, you’ll probably say “No, thanks,” and move along with your day.
Now, rewind this scenario and pretend that it’s your best friend who’s asked you to help move the piano. You’d likely be much more willing to lend a hand, right?
The media doesn’t operate that differently. Why? Because media outlets are run and populated by people, not article writing robots. At least not yet.
Public relations is -- shocker -- about building relationships. Some of the most important relationships you build are with reporters. If you do it well, they can be your greatest allies as your business continues to grow in the community. Think about it this way:
If you can win the trust of a reporter and prove to them that you can provide real, long-lasting value, you’ve set yourself up to get more than just one story from them.
Using our bakery example, imagine that you find a great reporter who is willing to write about the grand opening of your new bakery. They come out to your grand opening, you meet them, spend a little time talking to them, give them a free cupcake and actually make a real effort to build a relationship with them.
They go back to their office, write up your awesome story and get lots of great traffic to their article.
Now, whom do you think that reporter is going to turn to the next time she wants to write about cakes, bread or bakeries in the area? You’re a trusted source and you have her goals in mind as well as your own.
You’ve just won yourself a media contact. Now, And the next time that you have a big event happening at your bakery, whom do you think is going to be your first call?
These mutually beneficial relationships are so incredibly important, especially in the local context. The more of them you have, the easier it will be for you to get your story told.
This is also why it’s so incredibly important to try and not burn bridges with reporters and outlets that reject you.
Some reporters are just mean and you’ll probably never have a relationship with them. But most are wonderful, creative and interesting people. Treat them with the respect that you would want to be treated with.
If you don’t, not only will you virtually destroy your chances at getting an article written about you or your company, but you’ll also destroy almost any opportunity to pitch that reporter in the future, which is a big loss.
Take the time to build relationships. It’s an investment that will pay dividends.
How do you build a relationship with a reporter? A great place to start is by engaging with their work online. If they post an article that interests you, share it on social media or reach out to them and let them know that you really enjoyed reading it. Let them know that you’re following what they do and that you genuinely care about their work.
We use the word “genuinely” here very intentionally. As a race, humans have gotten pretty good at spotting a suck-up and most people can tell when you’re feigning interest to win some brownie points.
If you don’t care about the local sports team a reporter is writing about, don’t pretend to like them. If you couldn’t care less about new coffee shops opening up in your community, don’t email the reporter who writes about them and pretend like you do.
Strive to build real, lasting relationships with your local reporters. They’re people just like you and if they’re local reporters, they likely live in the same community as you. Their kids go to the same schools, they sit in the same traffic, they cheer for the same local sports teams and they know about that massive pothole on Main Street. Chances are good that you’ll have something in common with them. Take the time to find it.
Every local market is different.
Cities are different, politics are different, financial status is different, people are different. But one thing that always transcends these differences is that people love a good story.
A well-told story has the power to cut through differences and touch people at the core of their shared humanity. So above all else, learn how to tell your story well. Craft it, shape it, master it and make it something that affects the people that live around you. If you can do this, you will always have a place in the local media.
Need help learning how to tell your story? Reach out.