By Sheldon Baker
You’ve just hired a public relations person to develop future PR efforts to promote your company and products. Do you know their short and longer term strategy to generate media coverage right out of the starting gate?
An often heard saying in business development is “it takes just as much time to do a large deal as it does to do a small one.” So, too, it be just as difficult for a public relations person to convince an editor to cover your company or product for a local community publication as for a major national one.
With more than 11,000 newspapers, 14,728 TV stations and 1,780 radio stations in the country, they may feel overwhelmed about the best approach, especially when crunched for time. Here are some ways to maximize your company’s efforts when pitching local media.
* Find Timely Hooks: Your overall media plan should take into consideration any timely hooks you can use to sell your story. Certain hooks — such as New Year’s resolutions or mapping a holiday budget — are perennial favorites that are uniform across markets. The timing for other news hooks — getting ready for the traditional bathing suit season or preparing your backyard herbal garden — can vary regionally. Plan your pitch in advance so you don’t miss key opportunities. Also, keep in mind that many print publications have long lead times for feature stories.
* Multiply Your Efforts: Some smaller media outlets are part of larger regional networks that share resources and run overlapping content. Consider approaching a syndicated writer or broadcast host whose coverage of your topic will be seen or heard in more than one place. Your one pitch could translate to several local media placements.
* Prioritize Key Publications: Be strategic in your outreach. Consider personally pitching local outlets in the same hometown as your brand, or those in the town from which your CEO or other executive management hails, for a hometown hero angle. Prioritize those key markets in which a product may be launching first, or which may be especially receptive to it.
* Think Geography: What may seem perfectly appropriate to a Florida newspaper may be of little use to an Illinois readership. Avoid a monolithic approach to your outreach, which could get your pitch tossed in the trash. Always take geography and the time of year into consideration.
* Consider Small Outlet Realities: Journalists at many local community media outlets nationwide usually wear more than one hat. Many weekly newspaper editors also are “on press” one day a week — most often Wednesdays — to supervise the actual publishing of their newspapers. And some local radio journalists pull double-duty as on-air hosts during key times of the day, such as drive time, while also serving as news director or station manager. Know these realities before you make a call to your local media outlet.
Local media outreach can be an effective vehicle to garner numerous media placements to promote your products or services. It’s often an overlooked strategy by PR staffers and management to reach a huge cumulative audience that you may not be currently reaching.
Sheldon Baker is CEO of the Baker Dillon Group LLC and has created numerous nutraceutical brand marketing and communications campaigns. Sheldon can be contacted at SBaker@BakerDillon.com or www.BakerDillon.com.