Reaching out to local press can be a daunting task, but hopefully I’ll be able to lay out some great tips and best practices for you to use for your next event. For those of you who have not worked with me yet, my name is Phil Stamper, and I am the Public Relations and Communications Coordinator for ASLA.
I’ve worked in a similar capacity for a few different organizations in the past. Some fully focused on local outreach, and others balanced between a national and local audience. Though every case is different, there are a few tips that work in every scenario.
Establish your audience.
It’s very easy to do a good job finding your audience, but it is hard to do a great job. Make sure you reach out to reporters from local television networks, radio networks, newspapers and blogs. In newspapers, include those who write for the local section of the paper, as well as any lifestyle reporters. For television and radio, talk to those who focus on community events or local news.
Don’t underestimate the power of local blogs. Nearly every major city has a blog, here’s an example from Columbus, OH and one from Washington, DC. City blogs are always looking for content and event notifications from local organizations.
Write a succinct press release.
This is fairly self-explanatory, but it is worth noting. The first step to attracting local press is to get them to actually read your event release. Write a press release that grabs their attention with a title that pulls them in. Titles like “ASLA gives award to X-Park” will draw fewer people in than “ASLA honors X-Park for aesthetic design, commitment to sustainability.”
When you write your release, make sure that the information you’re presenting is easy to read and understand. Read through it once, and imagine you are the reporter. Where do your eyes go first? Do you skip over sections? If the key information stands out, you are good to go.
Follow up with a phone call.
Personally, I do not like talking on the phone. Whether for business or even with friends, phone conversations are just not my forte. However, I know the most influential way to build a relationship with the local press is to call them. With every release, pick at least five important reporters to follow up with a phone call. Nearly every organization has missed opportunities by not following up their press release with a phone call.
In the call, introduce yourself, explain that you are following up on a press release, and briefly describe it on the phone to jog their memory. Reporters scan through many press releases in one day, so a phone call will bring it to the front of their mind. It also gives you a chance to promote the key speakers or talk about the event on more relatable terms. Showing that you care about the community as much as they do will truly stand out to them.
Go to community events.
Every city has many community events, from local festivals to seasonal celebrations. At all of these events will most likely be the same local news and radio reporters who you want to attend your future events. Simply greeting a local TV reporter, shaking their hand and introducing yourself and your association will give you an edge over all the other association/corporate PR representatives who don’t.
Show your appreciation.
When you have members of the media attend your events, show them how excited you are. Create media kits for the day of the event with all the background information, biographies of presenters, any related pictures, maybe even some ASLA-branded freebies. Make sure they know who to go to with follow up questions, and make sure all of their needs are met.
If you can show the local media that you are an integral part of the community, these reporters will come back and write for future ones. Once your events get picked up by one network, others will want to join in, too.
I hope these tips help you for any upcoming events you may have. If you have any questions or need advice, please let me know. I am here to help all of you get the coverage for your events that you deserve. Do you have any tips or best practices that I may have overlooked? Let me know in the comments.