Do you want to get free coverage for something your business is doing in the community? Have no idea how to approach news outlets? Check out these four easy tips for getting media involved with your event or story.
- Do your research.
You need to be informed about your local news outlets and reporters if you want to intelligently pitch stories. If you watch and read local news and keep an eye out for stories pertaining to your industry, you’ll gradually learn which reporters tend to cover stories like yours.
For example, your company repairs computers, and you’re having an event where community members can get their computers repaired cheaply. You watch the local news station three nights in a row and you identify one reporter who tends to have stories about technology. You know that this is the reporter that you should contact about your event, and you discovered that merely by watching and observing your local news station!
Another useful tip: set up Google news alerts for keywords in your industry. This saves you the time of doing research on a given topic and lets you know when issues that impact your industry are in the news. This way you can stay informed with little effort, get to know the reporters on issues you care about, and look for opportunities to engage.
- Set up a press contacts list.
You don’t want to be scrambling at the last minute when something newsworthy comes up. You want an index where you can easily find contacts to tell about your event. Creating a spreadsheet with press contacts for both print and TV news will do you a world of good.
You’ll want the newspaper editors’ names, emails, and phone numbers, as well as the name of the newspaper. It will also help to have the contact info for community calendars and general news desk email addresses.
For TV, you’ll need the news director and program director’s names, emails, phone numbers, and station name. It will also be helpful if you include a reporter’s info who is relevant to your industry.
- Offer photo opportunities.
For TV news, good visual are essential, and for newspapers, photos can do much to flesh out a story. When contacting reporters about your event, you’ll want to describe in detail what photo opportunities will be present.
In our computer business example, say you’ll have a raffle where you’ll give away a top-notch computer. You might describe what that would look like, so the reporter knows what kind of material they’ll be getting if they cover this event. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.
- Send out a media advisory.
Media advisories will be easier for you to send out than press releases. These are shorter than press releases and simply give the information about the event to the news outlet. You should include any appearances by VIPs as well as the basic who, what, when, where, and why of the event.
Media advisories should be sent out to your best contacts three to five days before your event takes place to give the news outlet ample time to prepare, and so it will be fresh on their minds. Remember that media advisories are only to be used for newsworthy events!
Now that you know the top four ways to get media involved with events relating to your business, you’ll be able to get the free news coverage that will help to improve your reach in the community. Good luck out there!