Press isn’t just for household names. Small businesses too can get a story on the local news and reap the rewards that come with local publicity. No matter which type of media outlet, from print to television, if you submit a great story to local journalists, your business can land press coverage that will gain the attention—and capture the interest—of your audience.
What’s more is that getting your story on the local news gets you thousands of dollars’ worth of exposure, making it a worthwhile investment of your time. And though it’s completely free to get local press, many opt for affordable press release writing and distribution services to guarantee press coverage and yield an even higher return. While there are many to choose from, those targeting a certain area should choose Newswire, as it gives you the ability to target by location.
Let’s dive into the seven steps to get local press coverage:
1. Write Your Press Release
The most critical piece of your press release is your angle. So before you begin writing, decide on a newsworthy angle based on your type of press release, then craft your story around that. Start with a draft of your general concept, then fine-tune it by putting your most compelling information at the forefront (or start of) your press release to hook the journalist early.
When writing your press release, be sure to include a release date and the city, state, and date of your news story along with your announcement. You also want to be sure that you use the most objective language possible in all of your paragraphs, and end with contact information and a clear call to action. For more information as to what to include, check out our guide on how to write a press release.
You can also look at our article on press release examples for inspiration and ideas or learn more about key elements in our guide on the press release format and template. And if you need a little help coming up with story angles that people will find interesting, use the visual keyword research tool, AnswerThePublic. It tells you what people are talking about online, giving you insights to create great content ideas
Not sure if writing is for you? Businesses of all sizes look to the pros to write press releases on their behalf. The small price you pay to have yours expertly written can make all the difference. For high-quality writing services at industry low prices, we recommend eReleases.
2. Find Local Media Outlets
After writing your local press release, the next step to get local press is to identify the local media outlets, such as newspapers, TV stations, radio stations, and websites. Compile a list of all of the relevant media outlets as you find them until you have a sizable number of contacts. If you don’t have the time to research and weed through local media outlets, or if you want local and national coverage, use a press release distribution service instead, such as eReleases.
Here are the different types of outlets to look for in your area:
- Local print coverage: Get a read on what sort of news local press is covering by looking at coverage and news titles in your area. A good starting point is the U.S. Newspaper List (USNPL), which lists newspapers by state and city. But also consider local city newspapers, educational publications, and community publications.
- Local radio stations: Easily discover all of the radio stations in your area using the free radio locator tool. It links to each station’s website, where you can find contact information. In addition to organic radio coverage, consider radio advertising.
- Local television stations: Local news stations need local stories for their programming. Every major network has a local affiliate with its own website and contact information. Look up the television station’s local website and visit its contact page. To get a list of all of your local channels, go to the TV Guide site, click the “Customize my listings” link, and enter your ZIP code.
- Local websites: Local websites include blogs, digital news sites, and even Facebook groups that are dedicated to posting information regarding a specific topic area in a specific location. The biggest online network of local coverage is Patch Network, with individual websites for several hundred neighborhoods and cities.
Additionally, make sure your business has a solid online presence with a great business website and listings on all relevant online directories. For help managing your directory listing, use a free tool like LocalWorks.
3. Find the Right Media Contacts
Now that you have a list of newspapers, stations, and websites that you want to cover your story, it’s time to find the people to contact with your pitch. Identify journalists who will likely be interested in your story by finding those who cover similar stories. Then, locate their direct email addresses by reviewing the publication or their social media profiles, using tools that scan the internet for their email addresses or calling the media outlet to request their information.
Here are five ways to find a journalist’s contact information:
- Review their published articles: Most publications offer author or journalist bios where authors often provide additional information about them, such as contact information.
- Find contact information with SignalHire: SignalHire is a Google Chrome plugin that finds email addresses and phone numbers for contacts on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.
- Discover email addresses with Hunter.io: This is a free tool in which you input the company website where your target journalist works and it gathers emails.
- Connect via LinkedIn: LinkedIn is the leading social networking platform for professionals, and it is a great way to connect with a reporter or journalist.
- Call the media outlet: When online research doesn’t work, try calling each media outlet and asking for the information directly.
While high-quality outlets, such as large and well-known newspapers and stations, are great, so is quantity. This is where a press release distribution service like Newswire can help. Newswire ensures that your press release gets syndicated to a network of more than 4,500 business, financial, and news outlets to increase your online and search presence.
4. Craft Your Email Query (aka Pitch)
Now it’s time to send your press release, which includes writing a pitch for your press release. Like a normal introduction message, your email query (or pitch) serves to introduce yourself, your business, and your press release. It should concisely tell the recipient why they should be interested in your press release and how to get more information.
Here are the four elements every pitch should include:
- Personalized greeting: A pitch should be addressed directly to your relevant contact, such as a journalist who covers the subject area of your story.
- Eye-catching subject line: Pitches that are sent via email must include an intriguing subject line. It should not only tell the recipient what the email is about, but also make them want to open it to learn more by answering why they should care. For help, use the free subject line grader, Subject Line, to ensure your subject will entice journalists.
- Body copy with pertinent information: This should be personalized to each journalist by answering the following questions: 1) Why should the recipient (and their audience) should be interested?; 2) What are the key points?; 3) Why do they need to act fast?; and 4) Where can they get more information?
- Press release: A pitch needs to include your press release. It’s best to include your press release in more than one way. For example, you may attach it as well as paste it below your email, or if you’re using Google Docs, include a link to the press release.
Before sending out your email, be sure to check its grammar and spelling. It’s easy to make silly typos, and these can quickly damage your professional appearance. Use the free tool, Grammarly, to ensure your pitch and press release are in perfect form.
5. Send Your Pitch Email & Follow Up
Now it’s time to send your email. Be sure to pitch your release early enough to ensure journalists have time to process it and either air or publish it. Then, follow up to ensure your email doesn’t get buried. Take this follow-up as an opportunity to ensure journalists have all they need to run the story.
Here are the general timelines on when to pitch your press release by outlet type:
- Television and radio: Send your email seven days prior to your release date.
- Newspapers: Pitch two to three weeks beforehand.
- Magazines: Pitch your release three to six months before your release date.
Once you have sent your press release, wait three to five days and, if you haven’t received a response, send a courtesy follow-up email. If your press release is time-sensitive, send a follow-up before the release time in order to pull it to the top of your recipient’s inbox so they can cover the story in time. This helps journalists stay on top of that deadline, which can be very helpful to them.
Pro tip: Try adding another contact point by connecting with journalists over social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. This additional connection can keep you top-of-mind as the journalist considers your pitch.
6. Respond to Journalists
Ideally, you will hear from journalists after sending them your pitch and press release. And when you do, reply to their inquiry promptly, identify what they want to discuss, and practice for an interview if necessary. Journalists often have a specific angle they want to approach and will be looking for answers to a series of questions. Try to get this information upfront so you can be prepared when they call or email.
Here are a few tips for responding to journalists:
- Ask what they want to discuss: If the journalist requests an interview, ask what they want to discuss beforehand. Ask for a list of questions so you can think about them and put your best foot forward come interview time.
- Prepare your answers: Using the questions that the journalist has, jot down your responses. It’s also worth considering what other questions they may ask and preparing answers for those as well to avoid getting caught off guard.
- Practice beforehand: Take the time to run through your answers prior to your interview. Reading your answers out loud can help you work out any kinks and help you become more comfortable with answering the questions.
Remember that when it comes time for the interview, journalists often have a limited amount of time to collect the information they need, so make sure your answers are insightful, but concise.
7. Cultivate a Relationship With Journalists
Once you’ve provided a quality story for a journalist, increase your chances of future exposure for your business by cultivating a mutually beneficial relationship with them. Begin by thanking the journalist for running your story. Then, find ways to help them further their goals, including following them on social media, engaging with their content, offering to introduce them to contacts as needed and as appropriate, and providing quality stories as they arise.
Here are five ways you can cultivate a mutually beneficial relationship with journalists:
- Thank journalists who run your story: Once you’ve seen your story publish or air, it’s time to call each journalist and thank them personally for the coverage. Simply remind them of your story and thank them for considering and publishing it. Offer to answer any audience questions that may arise and to be a resource for future stories.
- Connect on social media: Most journalists offer their social media handles in their author bios. These are the preferred social channels by which they want people to connect with them. Follow or send them a connect request.
- Engage with their content: Once you’ve followed or connected with key journalists on their preferred social media channels, help to increase their engagement by sharing, liking, and commenting on their stories when it feels authentic to do so.
- Introduce journalists to valuable contacts: If you see your key journalist is covering a story series, for example, and you know contacts who can speak to their next piece on the topic, offer to connect the journalist to your contact (with your contact’s permission).
- Provide quality stories: Finally, go back to step one and repeat this process in the future to offer journalists quality stories their audiences will value.
Learning how to get a story on the local news is a worthwhile investment of your time that can yield great rewards. Businesses that get publicity increase their exposure and generate more sales. Best of all, press coverage is free, so unlike other forms of marketing and advertising that achieve the same results, there’s no financial investment. Of course, if you want to supercharge your exposure and land guaranteed press, use a PR distribution service like Newswire.