After fifteen years as a community journalist, I am admittedly very partial to local papers, blogs and cable stations. Now that I’m on the “other side” in public relations and marketing, I’ve brought that local bias with me … and I’m not planning to let go of it anytime soon.
The buzz over hyper-local has lessened some lately but that does not diminish the importance of the massive audiences and influence built up by many local news organizations.
Are you having a “local” conversation with your clients? If you’re only chasing coverage in The New York Times and on Good Morning America, I think you’re leaving a lot on the table.
Where are you from?
Is there a human face to the public relations project you’re working on? If so, are you asking where that person lives? That “of Whereverville” you see in every news story is an important form of connection with readers and for community news organizations, it is vital for your story to even get in the door.
If there is no real face to the organization, then start with where it is based. Where are the headquarters? Your reputation starts at the front door. Local readers/viewers are often amazed and very proud to learn what organizations/businesses are based in their town and intrigued by the projects they are working on. Start with them.
Where did you grow up? Where did you go to college?
Beyond just where the clients live or work today, it is valuable to ask where they grew up. That town or city may be a target market and having that “local boy/girl made good” pitch available for his/her hometown’s news organizations may lead to some great coverage.
Same is true for where a client went to school. Many alumni magazines have a huge reach and, if you’re like me, you read your alumni magazine cover to cover searching out classmates and friends. Don’t leave those eyeballs out of your PR campaign.
Where do you think many of those “big” stories got their start?
If you see a feature story in your large metro daily on something in a small town, I’ll bet you $10 it was first written about weeks beforehand in that town’s community paper. The big guys in the news business definitely keep an eye on what the little guys are doing and often follow on their stories. Furthermore, where do you think many of those big-time producers and editors live? Those small communities! And if they’re news junkies (they likely are), they keep up on the latest going on around them at home.
It used to drive me crazy as a reporter when the staff from the big dailies or TV came into town and “discovered” a story that was by then old news to me. But that’s the way of the news world works and it’s very valuable for us in PR and marketing to keep that process in mind.
So don’t forget to think locally with your clients. The stories generated from even the smallest publications can have a very broad audience these days via email marketing and social media and may even spur continued coverage by larger news organizations.
Have you had success with a locally-oriented public relations campaign?