If you recently launched a new product or service and do not have the slightest idea where to begin with your promotional efforts, look no further than your very own backyard.
Whether you’re looking to raise awareness about yourself, your book, your business, and/or your brand, local media coverage can be the most successful form of publicity that can offer the greatest amount of impact. And guess what? You don’t have to spend a penny on advertisements. Here’s how to do it:
Step 1: Streamline Your Story
Streamlining the story you want to present to the press is essential when it comes to landing local coverage. Why should they cover it? Is it compelling? What value does it provide? Keep these questions in mind as you develop your story.
Step 2: Do Your Research
This may come as no surprise, but one of the most crucial parts to securing an interview, review, or feature stems from the amount of initial research you put in. Start by making a list using the 5 W’s:
- Who is the best person(s) to pitch?
- THINK: Editor in Chief, News & Program Directors, topic-specific reporters
- What segment of the outlet would be the best fit?
- THINK: News, Sports, Art & Entertainment, Politics, Opinion sections
- Where can you find journalist contact information?
- THINK: Contact sections of the outlets’ websites and Twitter handles for direct messages
- When is the best time to pitch them?
- THINK: Trend stories and news cycles
- Why should the outlet be interested?
Step 3: Formulate a Pitch
At this point, you’ve established a story and figured out where and whom you want to go after. Naturally, it’s time to sit down and actually write the pitch. The key here is to share who you are and your story in the most concise way possible – ideally in one or two short paragraphs. If you’re looking for an interview, it might be in your best interest to include a press release and talking points in the body of the email (after your signature) so the receiver doesn’t have to click on multiple attachments. It’s also imperative to highlight the fact that you are local and any noteworthy contributions you have made to the community. This can be done in both the subject line and the body of the email in your introduction. For example:
“Portland local takes action against homelessness through new initiative”
My name is John Doe, a local Portland businessman and philanthropist…”
Step 4: Connect with Your Contacts
Now, you’ve sent your pitches out and are awaiting responses. In the meantime, don’t be afraid to follow them on social media and engage with their posts. Sometimes all it takes is seeing a familiar name to evoke a response.
Step 5: Follow Up
Another vital step toward earning local media coverage is your follow up. If the contact you pitched hasn’t responded to your email, ping them again. Give them a call. Shoot them a message on Twitter explaining who you are and what you’re looking for. It’s okay to be relentless in your pursuit as it can take multiple follow-up messages to elicit a response.
Step 6: Stay in Touch
Whether your inquiry is accepted or denied, don’t be afraid to ask about the types of stories your media contact typically covers so you know for the future and keep in touch with them over email and/or social media. It’s always advantageous to maintain a good rapport.
For more publicity tips, check out our Publicity 101 series.