There are a variety of simple steps that you need to complete in order to successfully promote your business to the local media. Below we have provided you with a detailed list of each step and when you need to have it accomplished:
STEP 1: Develop Your Local Media List
A well-developed media list translates into effective public relations efforts. For this reason, it is essential to complete the research of media outlets in your local market before continuing to the next step. You will want to look for the reporter, producer or editor who has the following title: business editor or reporter and features editor or reporter.
Your list should include:
1. Newspapers (daily and weekly)
2. Television (Local broadcast affiliates that have localized news programs such as ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC.)
3. Radio stations
For each outlet, you will need:
1. Contact Name
2. Contact Information (Phone Number/Fax Number/Mailing Address/E-mail Address)
3. Preferred Method of Contact
How to locate media outlets in your area: Two very handy websites that you can use to start your media search are http://www.mondotimes.com and www.epodunk.com Click on or enter your state and city and you will find web links to media outlets in your market. You can also Google search for the websites of your local media and go to their contact page.
STEP 2: Sending Your Pitch Letter and Press Release to the Local Media
You should begin developing an introductory pitch letter about your potential story for the local media contacts you would like to target with this press release.
Communication can be achieved in two ways: written or verbal. Both are effective, however, a combination of the two, leads to the best results.
Simply stated, the best method to communicate with the media is to:
1. Prepare the materials by customizing your press release. Use Who, What, When & Where.
2. Send the materials via e-mail or mail (if e-mail, cut and paste the press release into the body of the email – do not send as an attachment, as many people will not open attachments due the proliferation of computer viruses).
3. Be sure the materials are sent to the appropriate person.
4. Follow-up on the telephone (allow at least 24 hours before you call).
As always, have patience. The process of generating positive publicity takes time – but it‟s well worth the wait. Just as building relationships with your customers and employees is the key to your business, developing relationships with your local media is also important.
STEP 3: Securing the Interview
Timing: This step is unpredictable and could happen as soon as 24 hours, several days, or sometimes not at all.
Keep in mind that whenever you send a press release the media might only use pieces of the release depending on what their plans are for upcoming stories. They may run the release word for word, they may only run a few sentences, or they may want to do some research on their own. This may or may not include an interview and/or demonstration of your work or a job in progress.
The media might ask to speak with one of your customers or an employee. Be sure and have a few (in your back pocket) who are willing to speak with the media if this situation should arise.
STEP 4: The Big Interview
Once you have generated interest from a local reporter or editor, it is time to “meet the press.” The media will contact you to arrange a time, date and location for the interview to take place. It is important for you to be both flexible and easily accessible when it comes to arranging and completing the interview process. Reporters work on deadline, and if they can’t reach you, they may utilize another source that is more readily available or move your story to the back burner and focus on something else.
When you go into an interview, it is important to keep in mind what medium your story is being told through:
Television: For TV interviews, choose your words carefully, always wear a logo shirt, and offer brief and concise answers to questions to ensure that you are getting your message across clearly. Don’t “think” on TV. Instead, focus on delivering your message that was thought out earlier. If you want to get better at television interviews, watch other people being interviewed on TV with the sound off. Practice in front of a mirror or record yourself with a camcorder.
Radio: In interviews, radio reporters are generally looking for “sound bites” or short quotes that communicate the story effectively and don’t take up too much airtime. Much like television, it is important to keep your answers short and to the point. If you have called into a radio show and are on the air live, you might find it helpful to have the anticipated questions/answers and key messages documents in front of you.
Print: Newspaper and magazine reporters will request either an in-person, phone, or email interview depending on their location and deadline schedule. Interviews with print media are often more conversational than those with television or radio, however, it is still very important to be “quotable.” Everything that you say to a print reporter will, most likely, not be printed word-for-word, but instead told from a third person’s (the reporter’s) perspective, with a few direct quotes from you, that have been hand-picked by the reporter and placed in the story. If you are doing a phone interview, you might find it helpful to keep a Q&As and key messages documents in front of you. Remember, there is no such thing as “off the record.” If there is something that you would not like to see appear in print, then it’s best not to bring the topic up for discussion.
My Best Regards,
Market Insights, LLC