Ten ways to get coverage in your local media

Journalist interviewing business owner for local news

If you want to attract customers locally, it's well worth trying to get coverage in local newspapers, magazines and on radio stations. Follow these steps to get into your local media

  1. Do your research. Get to know your local newspapers, magazines and radio stations. Find out who they reach, how their content varies from day to day and section by section and, crucially, learn what their deadlines are. You should also note the names of writers, editors and broadcasters who produce material that might appeal to your customers.
  2. Network. Become an active member of a business group, such as your local Chamber of Commerce, to increase your prominence. Offer to speak at events to maximise your chances of meeting local journalists and being approached for a quote.
  3. Approach local journalists directly. Introduce yourself to your local business reporters if you see them at an event. Offer to show them round, introduce them to key people or provide background information for a story. Be friendly, but don't be pushy. Don’t forget to follow local reporters and publications on social media, engage with their posts and offer to provide comments if they mention a story they are working on. Journalists often use social media to gather reactions to a news story.
  4. Feed stories to reporters. If you are involved in a local business issue, such as new parking restrictions, offer a quote or write a letter to the newspaper or magazine. Pay attention to trends and developing stories; if a newsworthy event occurs that relates to your business, let reporters know about it and offer them background information and a comment. You could also offer to contribute a regular column or answer readers' business queries.
  5. Learn to write newsworthy press releases. Journalists respond to well-written and informative press releases. Give them a clear, descriptive headline that tells the story, use non-technical language and write copy that explains the benefits of your offering to local customers. Always include a quote, background notes, contact details and a good-quality photo.
  6. Exploit natural PR opportunities. If it is your firm's tenth anniversary, if you have just served your 10,000th customer, if you have won an award or a big contract, then tell your local media. Success stories are very attractive to readers and listeners.
  7. Create PR opportunities. You could team up with your local newspaper or radio station to run a competition with a prize that relates to your business - such as a year's supply of your product or a meal for two at your restaurant. Maximise publicity by tying it in with a key event, such as Valentine's Day.
  8. Get involved in the local community. You can generate PR by supporting local events and organisations. This could range from taking a stand at a local Christmas fair to sponsoring a sports team (with your name on their shirt). Let the press know of your involvement in any local events and see if they can send a reporter - otherwise send them a report afterwards.
  9. Take part in fundraising activities. Organising charity events or encouraging your employees to take part in unusual or impressive fundraising can reap dividends in editorial coverage. If a member of your staff has canoed down the Amazon for the Rainforest Alliance, for example, make sure you send out a compelling press release with photos, and make your employee available for interview.
  10. Review your efforts. Consider which of your initiatives have generated worthwhile publicity and continue to create more opportunities in that vein. There's a high degree of trial and error involved - you won't necessarily get coverage every time, but you will increase your connections and raise your profile. And that is definitely good for business.

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