How to Pitch the Local News
Katrina German interviews Alisha Edgelow, CBC Saskatchewan Senior Communications Officer about the best way to get your story on the local news.
If you want to start a movement and tell the world about your cause or product, try engaging with your regional news. The media outlets have large, established audiences and they also need stories. When you are covered by local radio or television they will often produce your interview into a highly shareable digital version for social media. Feeling lucky? If you have a very compelling story, there is also a chance that your viewpoint will be picked up by national media organizations lending you an audience of millions of people.
Here’s how to add this public relations (pr) strategy to your marketing mix:
Before you Pitch
It’s important to know who you are pitching, how the media organization works and also the different shows. Edgelow shares "Some shows are specific to local news while others focus on arts and culture-type stories. Be sure to listen to the show prior to pitching."
Look for a local angle to a national story. “Current affair shows are always looking for a local connection to global issues.” If you hear a national news story and you have expertise or a local story that connects to the issue, reach out to news outlets to add your message to the story.
Tell a story
Edgelow has great advice “Why does it matter? Who are the characters in the story? It’s important that stories are character driven and that they are interesting and important to other people. We all get invested in our own projects, our own brands, but you need to find that hook about why other people will find it interesting or inspiring." When people are trying to pitch, they tend to emphasize the facts but this may not be the right approach to get your message covered “It’s about the story. That’s what people remember.”
Steps to Get your Story on the Local News
Find out how each local news station likes to get their news. What is their news cycle? What are people’s print deadlines? For CBC Saskatchewan, you can send an email to Sasknews@CBC.ca. That goes to French, Digital, Radio, TV all of the producers and all of the journalists. On most media outlets website, usually the "contact us” page.
Make sure your pitch email is concise and that all of the information is in there. Always consider the 5 W’s. What is it? Where is it? When is it happening? Who is involved? Why does it matter?
There’s a lot of information coming in and out of a media organization. If you want an event covered, send an email 2 weeks before, another email a week in advance, the day before and ensure to place occasional follow up calls to the producers or journalists that have shown an interest in your story.
After your Appearance
Share any photos, videos or links to articles through your social media channels. It is a great way to show your online communities the legitimacy of your message and allow your personal contacts to share on your behalf. Also, news stations track their analytics and it is helpful for future coverage if your topic has a high number of views and comments.
Send a follow up “thank you” message to the journalist or producer for covering your story. Cultivating an ongoing relationship with individuals within the media organization is important for future stories that you may want covered. You may also be added to the journalists “local experts” file for their future stories.
<Read Kendal Netmaker’s tips for maintaining a press list>
Extend the Reach
Add a link to your media coverage to your email signature for a few weeks. It is an opportunity to show your expertise to your current and future contacts and to extend the length of time that people are engaging with your media story.
Local news is a highly powerful way to share your message with a large audience. Emphasize your local connection to a national story, focus on telling a story and maintain ongoing relationships with your local media outlets to ensure a continuous, free way to start a movement in your community.