Local and regional press is still some of the most influential media around – MPs are guaranteed to read it!
Working well with your local press can really help to amplify your message and build your support. Here are just a few tips and things to consider.
Media Trust have also produced a great leaflet on how to achieve local and regional press, it is worth a read.
Understand your media and make sure that they understand you
Take the time to regularly read, watch and understand your target media. Look at regular features, issues they are interested in and know the layout of the publication, programme or website.Always answer the ‘so what?’. We care greatly about our topics – it’s why we do what we do. But don’t always assume that others do (or even know what we do!). You need to spell out explicitly why your story is of interest and why they should cover it. E.g. “This will impact XXXX number of students in our area and risks jobs, and prosperity.”
Be aware of their deadlines and work to them
If you plan on phoning to sell in your news story, make sure you are aware of their deadlines. For example, don’t phone last thing in the afternoon when the latest issue is being finalised. It is also important to consider the lead times for new stories which will change depending on whether they are online, daily, weekly or monthly.It’s always worth putting in an initial call to ask deadlines before beginning your work.
A good news pitch takes research. Rather than inundating your target media with press releases which might not be relevant think about their target audience and what that journalist has an interest in.Local newspapers are often stretched in terms of resources, the more you can offer them and the easier you can make it for them, the more likely it is that you’ll get pick up.
Raise the profile of your college as the ‘go to’ organisation in your community, Whatever the subject – business, education, skills, youth voice – it’s likely that your college has an expert view on it. Good PR is based on facts so make sure you give statistics and use reliable research.
Give a local slant to a national story
Keep your story relevant to the local context. What does this issue mean to your local community? Why does it matter?
Newspapers and television love great images and the better your visuals, the more likely it is that you’ll get coverage. So, make sure that you think about that in advance – grainy photos from a phone are less likely to published. Sometimes, even a weaker story gets great coverage when it has a great photo.
Engage with journalists
There are huge benefits in meeting a journalist face-to-face, but most don’t have time to get away from the office. Ask if you can drop by their office to meet them for a quick coffee, outlining the interesting issues and stories you will be able to tell them about. Take this opportunity of meeting them to ask what they are working on and how you can help them. You might want to invite them to come and visit the college too if they can spare the time.Follow your media contacts on Twitter. Many journalists post their latest stories, so you could comment on or retweet relevant stories. Some will put interview or information requests out via Twitter too.