As a national boutique PR agency, many of our clients have a national or international presence. And everyone loves a solid national PR hit! But for some clients, local news coverage can trump national press. We have a number of clients from our food and beverage, consumer lifestyle and even tech practices that ask us to focus a great deal on local market media relations – and it delivers solid results. It’s a great feeling hearing that someone called your client’s store in Birmingham, Alabama right after their TV interview aired to order some of their product!
So here are some easy tips to make you an expert in local market media relations:
- Get to know your market and your media.
So your client has a presence in Milwaukee, Wisconsin but you’ve never even been there, let alone watched the news? Time to watch. Spend some time on the websites for the local broadcast TV stations and newspapers. Find the YouTube channels for the TV stations and check out their program schedule. Do they have a morning show that has cooking segments? Do they only share hard-hitting news? These types of things are important to familiarize yourself with before you start pitching.
- Learn their beats – and their names!
Read their articles and pay attention to what they care about. Broadcast TV stations in local markets will often share bios of their reporters – read them and note if anything ties into your client. Maybe you noticed that one reporter loves to cover heart-warming stories. Make a note and keep this in mind for the next time your client is hosting a fundraiser.
- Be respectful of their time.
Especially in smaller markets, TV reporters are often shooting, editing and producing their own stories within the same day. Newspaper writers are on quick deadlines. They work long, crazy (and often early) hours. When you’re coordinating a story or an interview, check on deadlines and make sure that your client will be able to deliver in time.
- Make yourself and your client a resource.
Aside from positioning your client as a knowledgeable source on a subject, you also need to position yourself and your client as reliable resources. One good interview can turn into many more if the media know that you are responsive, efficient and that your client can comfortably handle an interview. What visual elements can you contribute for an on-air interview? Can you provide artwork for a newspaper or online story? The more you can package up for a writer or reporter the more likely they are to accept your pitch. They are busy – do as much work for them as you can and let them know up front all of the assets that you have available.
- Follow them on social media.
Follow all of the local TV stations, newspapers and your key media contacts on Twitter. This helps keep you in the loop on what is going on in Charlotte, North Carolina while you’re working in Atlanta, Georgia. Depending on your client, common news themes or weather trends can be useful in pitches. Keep up with the news and figure out a way to insert your client into the conversation.
- Keep up with breaking news.
Again: Twitter. By following the newspapers and TV stations on the social media platform, you’ll also know when NOT to pitch. Don’t be that PR person that is calling a news station to pitch your client’s event when there is a large fire at a local warehouse. In smaller markets, breaking news stories consume the entire newsroom and they don’t care about your proactive pitch at that time. Wait until things have calmed down.
- Bounce some ideas off of them.
But in a concise and appropriate manner! If you secure an interview with a writer or reporter, it’s a great opportunity to strike up a conversation about what else they may be interested in covering. But do it at the right time. Wait until all logistics of your phone interview have been set up or after the TV filming has wrapped up. Let them know that you enjoyed working with them and then mention a few other story topics or clients you work with to see if they would be interested.
- Make yourself available.
They say PR never sleeps and it’s true, especially with local market TV. Reporters need to know that they can call you at 7pm on a Friday to see if you can set up an interview with your client at 8am the next morning. By making yourself available, you make both your client and the reporter happy and increase the chances that your phone will ring again.
- Thank them!
Always be gracious. These media contacts are giving your client some great coverage, so thank them for working with you.
By following these tips, you will be sure to keep your clients happy with some great coverage while also developing some great relationships with your local media.
About Elisa Graciaa
Elisa Graciaa is a senior account executive at Trevelino/Keller, working in the agency’s Food & Beverage and Consumer Lifestyle practices. A rare Atlanta-native, Elisa can be found exploring new restaurants around the city, squeezing in a class at her local barre studio or trying new recipes.