You might dream of getting your brand mentioned in the national news, but the truth is that local news stories can be just as effective.
Despite the rise of online news and social media, 72% of Americans still pay attention to their local news, especially those aged 40 and over.
5 Ways to Boost Your Brand’s Visibility Using Local News Media
1. Reach Out the Right Way
How can you get your brand noticed by the local news? In this article, we’ll be looking primarily at “earned media,” which is when your brand gets mentioned in a news article or TV program without you having to pay for it.
That’s in contrast to “paid media,” or advertising, such as newspaper ads and TV commercials that you’ve paid for to reach an audience.
The great thing about earned media is that it doesn’t cost you money. On the other hand, you have less control over how your business is portrayed.
You can earn media attention for your brand by doing things that are “newsworthy” or that provide value to the audience.
Some things that can lead to positive press appearances are: the launch of a new product; a charity initiative; a business relocation or expansion; or a sale or giveaway. For example, think of Ben & Jerry’s annual Free Cone Day, which gets written about in local newspapers all over the country every year, or even the launch of a new ice cream flavor.
If you have an item that you think is newsworthy, how do you get it in the press? First, do your research and contact the right editors.
Many newspapers run regular features on local startups and businesses, but if you contact the wrong editor or reporter, your inquiry will get lost. Don’t send your email to the opinions editor if it belongs in the business section.
Take note of which reporters write about businesses like yours, and send them a pitch to let them know you’re available to be quoted in future articles.
Always initiate contact via email, not over the phone. Newsrooms are busy places, and it’s much easier for someone to pass along your e-mail to the appropriate person than to pass on a voicemail.
2. Utilize Social Media
If an editor posts a tweet saying, “Who do I know in X industry to quote for a story?” that’s your opportunity to send them a DM.
3. Be an Expert Source
In some cases, it may be better to offer yourself as a source than to try to directly promote your business. A glowing profile of your business can feel like sponsored content.
But if you become a reporter’s go-to source on a topic related to your industry, then you can get your business mentioned in dozens of articles in ways that feel more natural to readers.
For example, if you run an online custom apparel business, a reporter might quote you (or the relevant expert in your company) in a feature article about the industry: “We always notice a sharp increase in t-shirt orders this time of year,” said Michael Nem, CEO of RushOrderTees.
And don’t forget local radio and television programs. If you’re comfortable speaking on the air or appearing on camera, then offering to be a talking head or a panelist can be a great way to bring visibility to your brand.
Local news stations host morning talk shows and local interest programs and have a lot of air time to fill. If you’re not able to appear in person, you might be able to make an appearance by webcam or Skype.
Other types of earned media include product reviews and readers’ choice awards. Be sure to keep a file of any mentions and promote your appearances.
Post quotes and video clips on your website to lend your brand legitimacy and show off the media you’ve been featured in.
4. Be Ready For the Publicity
Even when you’re not actively seeking out press, you can make it easy for reporters to highlight your business by having a press packet available on your business website.
This should include hi-res images of your logo, products, executives, storefront, etc, as well as any relevant links and contact info.
There’s nothing that a reporter hates more than missing a deadline because their source didn’t reply fast enough with the images or information they needed.
5. Don’t Neglect the Press Release & Small Newspapers
Finally, learn how to write a good press release. Every time you launch a new product, team up with a charity, or win an award, send out a press release to each local news outlet.
If you’re hosting an event, let them know you have press passes available for their reporters. And don’t overlook smaller newspapers, such as alternative weeklies or neighborhood bulletins.
Your business doesn’t have to be located within a newspaper’s delivery region for your content to be relevant to its readers. It’s all about building up a relationship and providing information that’s of value to them, regardless of where you’re located.
Remember, always tell the truth or you’ll hurt your credibility. Exaggerated claims might get more attention at first, but they can backfire if it turns out that your product doesn’t do what you promised, or that your success story wasn’t so authentic after all.
If you follow these tips for boosting your brand’s visibility in local news media, you can build up your reputation for the long term and be sure to get positive press for years to come.
Author Bio: Russell Michelson