Local press coverage gives businesses exposure through newspapers, radio, or TV channels that have audiences generally limited to a specific metropolitan area. You can get local press coverage for your business by finding the right media outlets, pitching an attention-grabbing story, and following up with journalists. This helps build your brand and attract new customers.
Central to a good pitch is a compelling press release. Newswire is a simple and intuitive service that helps you write and format a press release and distribute it to thousands of journalists targeted by your industry, location, and more. Get 10% off your first press release.
Here are the seven steps to getting local press coverage.
1. Write Your Press Release
To write a press release, first decide on a newsworthy angle for your company news, then format your press release document. Finally, write your introductory paragraph, dateline, release date, body paragraphs, boilerplate(s), and an end note. As you do, be sure to think like a journalist and offer the resources they need to craft a valuable story for their audiences. Finally, to the same end, offer multimedia resources journalists can use to increase engagement with the final stories.
Decide a Newsworthy Angle
When choosing a newsworthy angle, answer “Why should my audience care?” Don’t assume journalists are interested in your business; they are interested in publishing a story their readers find valuable. If you launch a product, for example, your audience might find it valuable if it solves a problem they face that competitors have not solved. Or, if you hire an executive, the new hire can offer an expert approach to solving your customer’s problems.
Format Your Press Release
Your press release should be no more than one page. Before you begin writing, set your page margins to one inch all the way around. Choose a clear and traditional font like Arial or Times New Roman. For the body of your release, set your font size to 12. For the title, set your font to 14 and center it. Your logo and contact information should sit just above your title with your logo in the middle, your contact information aligned to the right, and your release date (more on this below) aligned to the left.
Write Your Press Release
There are several components you must include when writing your press release. These include your first paragraph, summary paragraph, body paragraphs, one or more boilerplates, quotes, and your call to action (CTA) or closing note. We’ve created a comprehensive guide to writing a press release, but here are a few of the things you should know:
- Release date: A release date is located on the top-left corner of your release. If you want your release to be published immediately, it should simply say “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE.” However, if you want it to be published at a later date, it should say, for example, “Embargoed for release until Tuesday, April 13th, 2020 at 1:00 p.m., EDT.”
- Dateline and first paragraph: Your first paragraph should start with the city, state, and date of your press release, followed by a dash. It should then answer the who, what, when, why, and how of your business announcement in the most objective language possible. Just state the facts and answer “Why should readers care?”
- Body paragraphs: Your body paragraphs should expand on your news angle by answering the question “Why should readers care?” in more detail. For example, if you’ve launched a new product, describe the functions and features that help to solve readers’ problems differently than competitor products.
- Quotes: When journalists write a story, most include quotes to add a human perspective to the piece. Include two to three quotes from company stakeholders. For example, if you’ve launched a new product, you might include a quote from the engineer who designed it and a customer who tested it.
- Boilerplate(s): A boilerplate is the “about us” section of your release. Write a boilerplate for each company mentioned in the release. In your boilerplate, include a description of what the featured company does, its mission statement, how long it has been in business, its outstanding accomplishments, and company website addresses and social media handles.
- Call to action (CTA): Your call to action tells readers what to do with the information in your release. It could be something as simple as inviting journalists to contact a key person in your company to learn more or for an interview, including the person’s name, job title, and email and phone number. Or it could invite readers to click a link to access a landing page with more information, a demo, or a lead magnet.
- End notation: The end notation is simply three pound signs (###) centered at the bottom of your press release. It indicates it is the end of the release and journalists should not look for another page.
“A press release is a tool to help a journalist write a story, so it’s important to think like a journalist when writing one. A good press release will answer the five W’s: who, what, when, where, and why. Once your press release is solid, take some time to do some research on your local press and media outlets. What stories have been written on similar topics? Find journalists who are already having the conversation and start by reaching out to them.”
— Amber Henrie, CEO & Founder, In The Lights PR
Journalists are feeling pressure to make their stories shareworthy on their audience’s social media channels. As such, they seek to include multimedia in their stories, including videos and images. They know including those could boost their story’s engagement by 650%. Add one to two images at a minimum with your press release to help make journalists’ jobs easier. The more they don’t have to track down additional information, the more likely they are to run your story.
If you don’t have images or videos for your story, at least provide a visual to increase engagement with your story. A simple graph or infographic created with free tools like Canva can mean the difference between your story being published and not. You can sign up for a free account, then search “infographics” in the search bar. From there, use drag-and-drop and other design features to customize your infographic, add your logo to it, and input your data.
For example, if you are a real estate agent publishing a local story, you might include an infographic of the attractions and state of the real estate economy in your audience’s area to back up the claims in your release. Just be sure that all visuals help to highlight the newsworthy angle of your announcement by answering “Why should my audience care?” If the visual answers this question, it is sure to be shareworthy.
For radio coverage, you should offer a sound background or your background music to enhance the story. While many stations will choose to use their own, it’s helpful to offer and can help you have more control over the press you receive should they choose to cover your story.
For more information, read our step-by-step guide on how to write a press release.
“Don’t forget one line of boiler text summing up who you are or what you want the reader to do next: visit your site, call your office, make a donation, and so on. Include concise, value-adding quotes. If they are actionable and emotive in their tone and language, even better. Every local media outlet will likely amend or adjust your piece to suit their language and needs, so the simpler it is for them to scan and adjust, the more likely they’ll publish your piece.”
— Johnny Woods, Director, Thrive
2. Check Directories & Find Local Media Outlets
Once you’ve written your local press release, the first step to getting local press for it is to identify the local directories, newspapers, TV stations, radio stations, and websites in your area. Because the number of local media outlets is small, you should try to identify all of them in your county and adjacent counties, including contact information, so that you can pitch them stories directly. Compile a list of all of the relevant media outlets as you find them until you have a sizable number of contacts.
You’ll want to make sure your business is listed in as many online directories as possible to show media outlets that you have a solid online presence. LocalWorks is a free tool that lets you scan local listings across multiple sites, social media, and maps so that you can see where you’re listed and ensure that your information is up to date.
Local Print Publication Coverage
Next, uncover the news titles in your area. A good starting point is the U.S. Newspaper List (USNPL), which lists newspapers by state and city. Identify and reach out to newspapers that cover your city or county specifically. This way, you have multiple opportunities to get your local story covered by a local newspaper.
Here are three types of publications to consider for local media coverage:
- Local city newspapers: Start by finding newspapers in your local area, meaning your town, city, county, or region. Depending on the story you’re looking to share with the media, you may also consider statewide newspapers in your area.
- Local educational publications: This includes local high schools, colleges, and universities.
- Community publications: Contact your local chamber of commerce using this directory. This takes more time but could be worth it if the audience of the publication matches your target demographic.
Local Radio Stations
There are more than 15,000 radio stations in the United States. Chances are, there are dozens of stations whose signals reach your area. Radio Locator identifies what signals reach your area by city or ZIP code. It links to each station’s website where you can find contact information.
Learn more about how to effectively advertise on the radio by reading our complete guide on 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 find your local channel for CBS, NBC, ABC, and other networks, go to the TV Guide website, click the “Customize my listings” link, and enter your ZIP code. You will then be shown a list of all local stations in your area.
With the list of local stations in your area, look to see if they have a media relations or press page. There, you will typically find contact information for their press contacts, including phone numbers and email addresses. For example, the local ABC affiliate near Asheville, North Carolina, provides numbers for the tip line, news director, general sales, general manager, and press releases. You can use this information to reach out with your unique pitch and business story idea.
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. To find even more relevant websites in your area, search the web using the name of your area and the words “news,” “blog,” or “event calendar.”
3. Target 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. First, identify the right journalists to pitch. 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’s how to identify the right journalist for your story and locate their contact information:
Identify the Right Journalist for Your Story
Instead of targeting random reporters, it’s best to identify those who would be most interested in your story. To do so, go through your list of publications, radio and television stations, and listen and read through them. Most radio and television stations have websites where they publish stories they cover on air.
As you read through, identify journalists who cover similar stories as that of your business announcement often. Once you’ve found such a journalist, identify the types of angles they present for each story like yours. Answer the question: “How do they make the story valuable to their readers?” Write down the names of each journalist who covers topics like that covered in your release as well as your notes on how they make their stories valuable to their readers.
Access the Journalist’s Contact Information
Now that you’ve identified target publications, don’t send your press release to a generic newsroom email address. Instead, send it directly to the journalist who is most likely to be interested in your story at each publication. To do so, find their contact information. Some ways to do so include searching the company’s website for their published bios, using tools like SignalHire and Hunter.io, connecting with them on LinkedIn, or calling the media outlet to request the information.
Here are five ways to find a journalist’s contact information:
- Review their published articles: If the contact you want to reach out to has published articles, find them on their outlet site. Most publications offer author or journalist bios where authors often provide additional information about them, such as their contact information.
- Try SignalHire: SignalHire is a Google Chrome plugin that finds email addresses and phone numbers for contacts on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.
- Use Hunter.io: This is a free tool in which you input the company website where your target journalist works. It then gathers emails from around the internet for employees who work at that company. For emails not available, it will offer the typical format of the emails used at that company such as [first name, last initial]@company.com. You can plug in the information you know to produce the right email.
- 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. It’s easy to find people by simply searching the company they work for.
- Call the media outlet: When online research doesn’t work, try calling each media outlet and asking for the information directly. You may be surprised at how helpful these companies will be.
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. Sign up and save 10% on your first distribution.
“Identify reporters who cover stories within your specific niche. For example, if you own a bakery, it would be wise to find the name and contact information for anyone who is a reporter for the local news that covers food and entertainment or community activities. Once you know who they are, you can add them on LinkedIn and follow their social media accounts to see where they may be reporting next or what social events they will be attending in the near future.”
— Will Manuel, President & CEO, Core Mobile Apps
4. Write a Compelling Pitch
Now, it’s time to send your pitch. This 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.
- Body copy with pertinent information: The body of the pitch should be personalized to each journalist by answering the following questions: 1) Why should the recipient be interested? Or, more importantly, why should their audiences 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 could be included as an in-text link or simply pasted below your pitch. For more guidance, read our article on How to Write a Press Release in 10 Steps.
“Rather than blast anyone and everyone, send individual emails only to validated contacts with a message crafted just for them. Quality always trumps quantity. Since getting media coverage is the harvest after a season of hard work, be sure to invest your time in those outlets that deliver the best reading audience for your business.”
— Bernice Mirrilees, Public Relations Director, Red Caffeine
5. Send Your Pitch Email & Follow Up
Now that you know which person at each media outlet you want to contact, it’s time to send your email. Sending out an email is great for initial outreach. You’ve already written your personalized pitch. Now, 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.
Pitch in Advance of Your Release Date
Now it’s time to pitch using an appropriate timeline. Generally, if you pitch to a television or radio station, send your email seven days prior to your release date. For newspapers, pitch two to three weeks beforehand. For magazines, pitch your release three to six months before your release date. Include the message you wrote in step four.
Pro tip: Do not forget to attach your release and multimedia to your initial pitch. While some marketers and PR professionals may tell you that “forgetting to attach your release” just gives you an excuse to follow-up, the reality is that forgetting to do so will make you look unprofessional. Instead, follow up in more authentic ways that cultivate long-term, mutually beneficial relationships. We will cover this process more in step seven.
Follow-up on Each Email Sent
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.
Your body text should simply remind the journalist of your original pitch in one sentence. Then, offer to be available for any follow-up questions they may have about your business announcement. Thank them for their consideration and leave your contact information. This should be short and sweet.
In addition, connecting with them over social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter can be beneficial. This additional connection can keep you top-of-mind as the journalist considers your pitch.
6. Respond to Interested Journalists
When journalists respond to your pitch, be prepared. 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. Then, conduct a professional interview.
Ask What They Want to Discuss During the Interview
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. For those journalists who don’t provide a list of questions beforehand, they will likely at least provide you with a heads-up on their angle. This helps improve the overall quality of the interview since your answers are likely to be higher quality and more detailed if you can anticipate and prepare for the questions asked. Journalists often have an agenda going into an interview, so be prepared to satisfy their needs.
Practice & Prepare for the Interview
If you’re doing an interview, write down the questions that you expect to be asked and role play the interview with a colleague or friend. For online or newspaper stories, you should be ready to provide a number of high-quality photos of your storefront or business and customers using your products.
Conduct the Interview & Thank the Journalist
When the journalist reaches out for an interview, remember that they often have a limited amount of time to collect the information they need, so make sure your answers are concise and direct but polite. Be sure to conclude the interview with an offer to supply more information or materials if needed for the story. Mention your contact information again to be sure the journalist has it.
7. Cultivate a Positive Ongoing 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 key 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 your story. Offer to answer any audience questions that may arise and to be a resource for future stories they may be covering.
- Connect with journalists 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 journalists’ 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. Don’t be obnoxious or stalker-ish by engaging with every story or status update they offer. Instead, authentically engage with stories that resonate with you.
- 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, of course). Likewise, if you see the journalist posts an inquiry on Haro looking for sources, offer to connect them with a relevant contact.
- 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.
“Portray yourself as an expert in your field. For example, if you are a fitness expert, contact your local media before National Senior Fitness Day or National Men’s or Women’s Fitness Weeks. Offer your expertise for a news article, radio show, television segment, or podcast. When you show your local community that you are the expert in your field, the news media will want you to keep coming back.”
— Nikki Corbett, Owner & Lead Editor, Precise
6 Best Tools for Getting Local Press Coverage
There are many tools and platforms available that gives businesses a way to create better press releases while also increasing press coverage. These include everything from keyword research platforms that identify trends to subject line graders that score your subject lines in terms of likely effectiveness.
Here are the six best tools for getting local press coverage:
- eReleases: eReleases is a leading press release distribution site that gets your press release in front of hundreds of journalists. It gives businesses an easy and centralized platform for connecting to journalists. Pricing starts at $299.
- AnswerThePublic: AnswerThePublic is a visual keyword research platform that provides insights and content ideas based on what people are talking most about online. Those who need ideas and want to see what the public will find interesting should try this free tool.
- SEMRush: This is a free keyword research tool that allows you to research the types of keywords people search for on the local level. It also generates a list of publications that are talking about those keywords, giving you an idea of the publications that may be interested in your story.
- SubjectLine: This is a free subject line grader tool that scores subject lines based on deliverability and likely open rates. Those sending press releases directly to contacts via email should try this tool.
- Grammarly: Grammarly is one of the best language, grammar, and syntax tools online, and it is available for free. Grammatical errors can make your press release look unprofessional and devalue your brand, so you use this tool to check your copy for mistakes.
- Fiverr: Fiverr is a freelance marketplace where freelancers post their services, starting at just $5. Businesses struggling to craft their press release or story pitch can use Fiverr to hire a pro who will write your press release or pitch for you.
By using the tools available, businesses can discover content ideas that are of interest to journalists as well as craft professional press releases and distribute them to targeted industry contacts. In effect, these tools help businesses land more local press coverage and expedite the story pitch and press release creation process.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How do you get media coverage for an event?
To get coverage for an event, follow the same process as you would for any other type of coverage—find relevant media outlets, target the right contacts, craft your pitch, and be prepared for a positive discussion. Get more tips from the pros on how to get media coverage with press release examples.
Is it worth it to pay for press coverage?
Ethically, journalists should never receive any form of remuneration for providing press coverage. You should only pay for advertising or services such as a press release distribution service. Free press coverage opportunities are abundant; however, you can streamline some of these efforts with press release services or the help of experts from Fiverr.
How can startups get press coverage?
To get press coverage for your startup, reach out to business-focused publications and journalists within their niche. Another way that startups can get local press coverage is by contacting your local chamber of commerce to see if it has methods of announcing a startup within the business community.
Bottom Line: How to Get a Story on the Local News
Learning how to get a story on the local news involves finding the right contacts and putting together an effective pitch. Although researching outlets and sending press releases can be a time-consuming process, getting press coverage can lead to more sales. Every business looking to get press should take the time to find the right media contacts, build relationships with them, and craft the perfect pitch that will draw in journalists.
If you don’t have the time to research press contacts and send press releases, try a press release distribution platform such as Newswire. Via its network, your press releases will be exposed to thousands of media outlets and journalists, saving you a great deal of time and increasing the press coverage you will likely get. Get 10% off Newswire today.