(Photos in this post courtesy of this rather excellent Local News Special: “Meanwhile in Kent”)
If you run a local business or have a product or service that requires focussing on specific local areas of the UK, you can benefit hugely from building relationships with local media and running a local PR campaign.
Newspapers, magazines, websites, radio stations and local TV news all plays a part in generating awareness about your business and encouraging people to find out more and buy the products or services you offer.
We’ve put together this guide to building relationships with local media and running a local PR campaign to help grow your business.
1. Ensure you have a strong local PR story
For local media to cover your story, you have to make sure that the message is local. Here are some questions that you may want to answer to come up with some news angles that will get the interest of journalists:
- Is the news related to the area that the publication covers?
- Is there someone involved in your business from the local area?
- How can other local people get involved?
- Can the journalist interview a local resident about their experience of your product or service ?
Having a read through of previous articles in the publication, watch the local news, or listen to the local radio station to find out the kind of stories they like to cover, then add in similar angles to your messages.
Make sure that you have a story of genuine interest – it’s not enough just to be a local business without any local news story.
2. Gather case studies of local customers
Flick through any local newspaper or listen to any news broadcast and you’ll notice that people are at the centre of every local news story.
Whether it’s a photo of local residents or an interview with someone from the area about the story that has happened, local media love local people.
To make it easier, it helps to have some pre-prepared case studies that are ready to go in case a journalist is interested in the project or your news.
Here’s some suggestions about the information you may need:
- Date Case Study Collected (so you know it’s recent)
- Location (Which town, borough, area?)
- How many times have they been used? (You don’t want to use the same case study too many times!)
- Type of Case Study (Try and get a range of case studies that reflect the full range of your business’ customers)
Getting these case studies in place will make your life much easier when a journalist gets in touch as you’ll be able to respond more quickly to any media opportunities that come your way.
3. Create a list of local media
Now that you have your own house in order, you can start to see who might be interested in spreading the word about your business.
If you’re not already aware of the local media in your area, a quick search for your location and news (e.g. “Brighton News”) into a search engine should bring up local newspapers, TV, radio and news sites.
Another useful site is Media UK, which lists all of the publications and media stations in the UK. The site also contains websites, addresses, telephone numbers, email and more for all areas of online media, including 831 radio stations, 517 television channels, 1,592 newspapers, and 1,979 magazines.
Also think outside the box. Does the local council have a newsletter, magazine or regular email that goes out to residents? Will other local organisations include you in their newsletter, website or blog?
Make sure to capture names, job titles, email addresses and phone numbers where possible, as well as make some notes about the kind of stories the journalist covers. Saving some links of recent articles they have written that are related to your business will also be useful.
4. Start building relationships
The best initial contact to make with a journalist is a phone call. They are humans after all and want to hear from humans, not receive yet another email to look through in their ever expanding email inbox.
When you call, be friendly, honest and not pushy. Say where you’re from and explain what the product or service is, then ask them if they are looking for any particular stories or the kind of news that they would be interested in writing about.
Making this initial connection will be hugely beneficial as they’ll recognise your name whenever you contact them next – whether on the phone or via email.
If all goes well, you may get an article or news piece there and then. If not, follow up immediately after the call, thanking them for their time on the phone and leaving them your contact details, along with some potential news stories that they might be interested in.
It may take a while to contact all of the local media, so start with the most important first (generally the most read, watched or listened to) and don’t rush this bit – you want to make sure you’re giving something of genuine value to the journalists you speak to, not just trying to work through the list quickly.
5. Keep in touch
Once you’ve made initial contact with your local media, don’t disappear.
Keep in touch with any news updates you have, whether it’s new case studies, success stories or major milestones.
This will also keep you on the radar for journalists and they’ll be more likely to think of you for quotes or comments for related news stories.
Local PR is all about building relationships. The more relationships you can build with local media, the more stories and articles you’ll get on your business and the more customers you can reach in the areas you are focussing on.
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