7 reasons why you should never underestimate local media.
For most brands, a headline in a prominent national publication is one of the ultimate signs of PR success. Though I always encourage setting big goals, like snagging real estate in Time or The Wall Street Journal, it’s important not to neglect smaller media outlets.
Local coverage can be just as powerful as national coverage.
In all my years of working with some of the country’s largest national publications, I remain a staunch believer in the power of the local press. Here are seven reasons to integrate local news outlets into your organization’s PR strategy:
1. Brand recognition with an immediate audience. Because people in your town know you, you’ve already established a captive audience. That’s huge! One of my clients is the senior managing partner at a big Boston law firm. After receiving a prestigious award, he secured coverage in The Wall Street Journal—but it was the coverage in his local newspaper that really made an impact. “The Wall Street Journal was wonderful,” he said, “but in my hometown, people walked up to me in the supermarket to tell me they read my story!” How’s that for proof that local news coverage matters?
2. More content space. In national outlets, you’re lucky to get just a short quote or a brief mention in a longer article. A hometown newspaper is more inclined to feature your business more prominently than a big publication. You could even aim for an above-the-fold feature in your hometown paper! (see this blog’s cover photo). “More Than a Game” featured our client Doc Wayne Youth Services earlier this year.
3. Potential partnerships/customers. Another law firm client I represented a few years ago, got his biggest case of the year from a story that was published in his local paper. Businesses like supporting other local businesses. A story in the hometown publication is a great way to establish connections with other professionals in your community who could partner with or hire you to assist them.
4. Increasing brand visibility. Securing coverage from small publications helps to increase your brand’s visibility so that the big dogs will take notice. Earlier this year, one of our doctors in a medical practice we represent, was featured in her local news outlet and was discovered by a New York Times reporter who Googled the topic and found the article. The reporter happened to be writing about the exact same topic we covered and BAM! Our doctor was featured with her photo in the New York Times!
5. Easier access. It’s much easier to build a relationship with a local editor than with a national publication—especially in the beginning of your PR efforts. Local journalists receive fewer pitches than national reporters, so there’s a good opportunity to secure coverage. Pre-pandemic we often stopped by local newspaper offices when visiting a client to say hello. That in-person engagement can make a big difference but now we have to use the phone, email and Zoom for that introduction. An added bonus of starting small is that you can build the necessary skills to approach higher profile publications.
6. Greater control over your message. Local publications are often short-staffed, so there’s a good chance they’ll publish a timely, newsworthy, well-written piece without making significant edits.
7. Better use of time and resources. Gunning for bigger news outlets can be expensive and time-consuming. There’s also a much higher margin for rejection. Targeting your town paper saves time and resources while providing valuable, brand-building publicity.
A well-placed article in your local paper can yield a greater return than any national outlet and, in some cases, may attract those outlets to you. Are you ready to give this tried and tested strategy a shot? Schedule a chat with me and I’ll gladly walk you through the process.