Why local media should be in your PR strategy

When you’ve got a story that you think is newsworthy, it can pay to pitch local.

It certainly did for a national client of mine when I landed a heartfelt story about one of their employees in a local paper, which led to a reader purchasing one of the company’s products.

Local media can be a highly effective way of getting your message across. Yet when you have a great yarn, you may be inclined to think you need to go ‘big’ – perhaps a pitch to 9 News, The Australian Financial Review or a newspaper like The Courier-Mail.

You may spend weeks trying to get your story noticed by a national or state media organisation, which likely receives hundreds of pitches a week. At the same time, there is every chance you are overlooking some highly effective media channels closer to home.

The importance of local media in PR

Regional and suburban media outlets can be a great way to get your message across given they are a critical source of information to the people living in the communities they serve.

People in regional and rural Australia still regularly turn to their local newspaper, radio station or television news bulletin for their news. And suburban newspapers are still a major source of information for those living on the city fringes.

Earlier this year, when a national study into news consumption asked what types of news people were interested in, there was one clear winner: local news. In fact, it was the preference of nearly two thirds (67 per cent) of respondents.

The proximity of your business, product or event to a particular community can give it immediate newsworthiness.

People want to know what is happening in their communities. They want to consume the news most relevant to them, whether it is a report on a local crime wave, a human interest story on someone living nearby, or information about an upcoming event down the road.

Local media outlets also tend to receive fewer pitches than state and national media outlets, so there is a better chance that your pitch will get read and run.

If your business caters to a local community, you simply should not discount the power of local and regional media outlets when it comes to PR.

Why it pays to think local: a case in point

As a former journalist who spent many years at local and regional media outlets, I know from experience that communities tend to be fairly engaged with local media products.

However, I recently experienced the value of such outlets first-hand as a media and communications specialist when I landed a story in a local newspaper for a national client. It was a heartfelt story about one of their employees raising funds for charity after losing someone close to her, which connected back to the client’s local brand. The result? A reader visited the local brand and purchased their product while also chipping in some money for the fundraiser. During the visit, he said he’d been looking at competitors’ products but the article, which he thought was ‘fantastic’, got him over the line.

Check your local links

If you are pitching to a regional or suburban news outlet, you need to ensure your story has a strong local link.

If it doesn’t you are wasting your time.

When a local reporter sees a pitch land in their inbox, the first thing they look for is a direct link to their community. If there is none or if the local link is loose, such as a product selling in a local shop, the pitch is guaranteed to end up in the recycle bin.

Not sure if you have a good local story? A PR agency can help you pitch your story to the right media outlet. Bespoken has former journalists with strong media contacts, so if you want to remove the guesswork then get in touch with the people who know media here.

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