Our 6-Step Guide to Earning Local Media Coverage

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

Dear Journalist,

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.

“Buying Local”: It Counts in Public Relations, Too

local bookstore-pixabayWhen indie or self-published authors are releasing their new novels they always shoot for the brass ring: a review or feature in/on The New York Times, USA Today, The Today Show. When it comes to readings and merchandising of their books, they ask about the bookstores that they love: McNally Jackson’s, Politics & Prose, Powell’s, and of course, Barnes & Noble.

If you’re a self- or indie-published author, you’re a David trying to become a Goliath. And you aren’t the only David out there. Your local media and independent bookstores are most likely Davids too, hoping that you’ll turn the channel to watch your local news, or purchase a book from them instead of Amazon.

While we think its important to think big, and always include national media in a public relations campaign, it’s necessary to remember that your town can be one of the most fertile places to start.

Here are some reasons why you shouldn’t brush off the word local so fast:

Your local bookstore is the first place to stock your book. We recently worked with an author who was published by a small publisher. The book was beautifully designed, and she herself is a lovely person and a fantastic writer. She stopped by her local bookstore with her book in tow, and they ordered five copies after having a conversation with her. The books sold out shortly after, and on several occasions since then they have requested more copies of the book. At this point, she has probably sold 50 copies of her indie title from her city’s bookstore alone.

Local isn’t just limited to where you live now. One author we work with lives in Ohio and she had a bookstore reading in her own town, but she also held a reading event in a city an hour away from her home. Even better, she had family in New Hampshire and was able to book an event at a well-known bookstore in the area because she had a built-in audience that would attend her reading. Sometimes you can think outside the box when it comes to the word “local.”

Local media can lead to bigger things. More often than not, major television networks are not going to book you—or even consider you—on their morning show unless you have proof that you can work well on camera. Your local TV station is a great place to get tape that you can use later.

You’re all in this together. If a local author can get a number of their family and friends to attend their reading at an indie bookstore, those friends are more likely to purchase other titles at that store too and may realize they just found their new favorite hangout. And if you get an interview in your town’s paper, more likely than not all of your friends are going to share that article across Facebook and give that paper some love—in fact, one author we work with had a great interview in her local paper, and her Facebook friends shared that link over 200 times. It was amazing!

Have you had success with local media or would like to give a shoutout to your favorite bookstore? Tweet us @McKinneyPR!