Top 10 Tips for Local Media Relations

by redstorm

Small businesses always benefit from some strategic media coverage.  Often though they don’t have funds for PR professionals.  Here are the Top 10 Tips for small businesses to generate their own successful PR.  You just need to be proactive.  Most of the news and information you see on the TV news or in the daily newspaper is generated by individuals or businesses just like yours.  They send information to the media, usually via news releases and personal contact.  Don’t expect the media to use your release verbatim – they may use some of the information often supplemented with a call to you as a spokesperson.Here are some tips for getting your organisation noticed by your local media.1.  Get to know the media that are most likely to cover youRead and watch the media in your local area.  Subscribe to the newspapers and magazines; watch the local news; bookmark media websites; and join any organisations where you are likely to meet reporters and editors .2. Learn the names of the reporters who cover the beats most significant to youFor instance, health reporters or sports reporters may be the ones who would be interested in your news.  Then you can send your information directly to them rather than just to the “editor”.  Don’t forget more specialised reporters such as the society page editor who might be interested in your special event if it involves community leaders.  The calendar page editor will want your event listings.  Most newspapers also carry a list of volunteer opportunities, so find out who writes those.3. Get to know reporters personallyStart by arranging a short meeting at their papers or TV stations to introduce yourself.  Be considerate of their busy schedules and make it brief. Drop off some printed material or personally deliver that press release instead of mailing or emailing it.  Over time, you will have other opportunities to develop these contacts into more familiar relationships.4. Send complimentary copies of your publications to reportersInstead of just sending these out with your mass mailings, personally send a copy with your business card attached.  You can also attach a note directing the reporter to some item in the publication that might be of particular interest.  Send an invitation to your special event to the appropriate reporter.  Even if you don’t really expect the reporter to attend, the invitation will remind him or her of you and your organisation.5. Keep up with the personnel changes at your favorite media outletsThe turnover in the media is often rapid.  Develop your own media list and keep it up-to-date.  You may be able to subscribe to a media list for your locality, but it can’t substitute entirely for your own meticulously kept list.6. Always give the media information that is newsworthyYour information should be new, noteworthy, and relevant to a large share of the public.  Reporters are not interested in yesterday’s news, items that are of interest only internally to your organisation, or routine events. Provide reporters with good human interest stories.  Invite staff and volunteers at your organisation to let you know about good story ideas that you might be able to pitch to the media.  The best ideas often come from people who are on the front lines of your organisation.7. Develop a “virtual” media kit that resides on your organisation’s websiteInclude the history of your business, its mission and goals, brief profiles and photos of key staff and board members, the most recent news releases, and a downloadable PDF of the current annual report if applicable.  Busy reporters will appreciate being able to access this information easily.8. Take advantage of breaking news stories to promote your organisationThe best way to do this is to develop a cadre of “experts” who can speak to the issues your organisation addresses.  Train these experts (they can be staff members and/or volunteers) and make them available to reporters.9. Make yourself available to the media at any timeGive them a home or cell number where they can reach you day or night. Put that number in your online media kit.  Include it on your business card.  When you receive a call from a reporter, get back to him or her as soon as you can.  Reporters are working on deadline and will appreciate your rapid response.10.  Always thank a reporter for his or her coverageSend a hand written thank-you note.  Plus, never nitpick over minor inaccuracies.  Corrections appear in small type on a back page.  They are not worth your effort or of running the risk of irritating a reporter or editor.

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