Engaging with local media is a PR and marketing tactic that any expert can employ. Whether lawyer, entrepreneur, personal trainer, lifestyle guru – if you have expert insight to offer and useful advice to share, you may find this intro to local media engagement useful.

Why bother? 

Building relationships with your local media can prove a great way to raise your profile and build reputation among potential clients, in an authentic and cost-effective way. While local print media has suffered cuts and closures, online platforms and broadcast are going strong.

Local media, be it print, online or broadcast are always on the look out for ‘homegrown’ experts who can quickly respond to news stories, relevant to the local area, with insightful and understandable advice or analysis.

With just a little investment of time you can become a go-to expert in your local area, generating relevant contacts and clients on the way

Three golden rules for local media

1) Be responsive

  • Media waits for no man, or woman. News moves quickly. Whether a local story, or international event try to have your finger on the pulse of what’s happening now – and be able to show how your expertise is relevant.
  • When working with the media, timing is key. Most journalists work to deadlines that are measured in hours, not days. In fact, it’s wise to always assume a journalist’s deadline is NOW!
  •  If you are the first to respond to a breaking story, sharing tips or advice with an editor or producer you will stand yourself in good stead of being their expert of choice. Often a speedy response could win over the most informed, though ideally you’ll be both!
  • Finally – if a journalist calls or email, try to respond as quickly as possible – if you don’t, someone else will.

2) Be useful

  • Spotted a story you think has local relevance, and hits your area of expertise? Don’t be wary of calling a journalist to flag a story and offer context, advice and insight. They will be grateful that someone with the right knowledge is offering their insight.
  • You can find journalist contact details on the publication’s website, through social media or just call their reception and ask to speak to a named journalist or the newsroom. Tell them you have insight to offer on today’s xxx story, tell them why you’re an expert and what their audience needs to know.
  • Another way to be useful is to add to an existing story. If you see a journalist has already covered something and left out an important angle, or you can offer an opposing view, tell them.

Don’t shout at the radio when you hear your less-informed competitor discussing the news of the day at drivetime. Be the person journalists call when they need an expert.

  • Share relevant stories, links or information with local journalists and show you care about what they do – social media is a great place to do this.

3) Be relevant

  •  Whenever engaging with local media, think what you can do to make the story relevant to a local audience. Even if you are discussing a national issue, think about what it means for that media’s very particular locale.
  • It’s not too hard to find a local angle if you are creative. If there’s a national story about obesity, why not look up local statistics on the issue and offer your insight into the top running spots in the county? Or, has another national restaurant chain announced closures? Why not offer business or marketing tips to local restaurant owners and turn bad news to good?
  •  Relevance is also about timing. News turns around quickly – if you spot a potential angle on a story don’t wait a week to get in touch with the editor. Give them a call or an email right away. You don’t need to prepare an essay. A full bullet points will do.

And the platinum rule:

Always put the audience first!

  • Be aware that you may be speaking on a topic your audience has little or no familiarity with.
  • Respect their intelligence but speak plainly and simply – this is not the place for acronyms or reference to lengthy laws or impenetrable science.
  • Think about what the one thing is you want them to remember (aside from your name!)?

Pick a key message to focus on and frame your answers around that

How to get started: Research 

  • Look into which local media operate in your area. Council websites often list the key publications, or just hit Google. Make a note of the key contacts – editor, news reporters or online editors.
  • Listen, watch and read their output to understand their focus.
  • Get in touch with local editors, producers or reporters to introduce yourself and your area of expertise – a simple email outlining what you can offer is a great first step.
  • Follow them on social media, like or share content and comment where appropriate.

Keep in touch with them and remember the golden rules – be responsive, useful and relevant!

Oh, by the way… it’s meant to be fun!

Building relationships with the media, and achieving coverage is not only great for your profile, remember that it can actually be as fun as it is professionally rewarding. Don’t be scared!

But – with any media engagement consideration must be made to any potential pitfalls or risks – most of which are outweighed by the positives and can be overcome with preparation.

If you have any questions about whether you should get involved with media, or if this has sparked your interest – feel free to drop me a line!