Published: 15 March 2012

Are you taking full advantage of local media?

“I’d really like us to feature in the Ham and High Express” is probably not what you are used to hearing. There's often a predisposition for being featured in the national media – yet 70% of people read a local publication regularly. Here are some tips on how you can take full advantage of local media.

More than newspapers 

As media models are changing, so are local news outlets. Look further than traditional newspapers and tap into evolving avenues.

  • University, council or community publications These niche publications may not have the kudos of bigger brands, but have healthy circulations and are often scoured by larger media for story ideas. Their content will often be well planned so call up and find out what they are working on.
  • Local lifestyle magazines There has been a growing trend for local lifestyle magazines, many of which are led by advertising and delivered free to residents. These magazines are keen for pre-written content, have a captive audience and are a good place for syndication articles.
  • Radio and TV Radio is often at the heart of the community and producers are always on the look out for experts to discuss local issues. Make them aware of your networks of local volunteers or service users who can talk knowledgeably and passionately about subjects at short notice.
  • Blogs and online portals With a number of local publications closing down, micro-news sites like the successful Saddleworth News have been springing up. These sites have small but loyal followings and are good for increasing online presence and sharing through social media.

Syndicate

For a little extra work you can create numerous regional articles from the same story. If you are doing a survey about care for the elderly, factor in region specific questions about the cost of care homes and levels of satisfaction in certain areas. You’ll end up with:

  • Birmingham’s elderly are worst cared for in the country
  • Londoners pay least for their elderly care
  • Three quarters of Scousers are happy with their care homes

Link local stories to global news

If you’re working for an international charity, don’t discount using local media. As long as there is a strong local connection then it is still a good avenue. Concentrate on how to relate global issues through local links like town twinning, school education initiatives or strong personal stories, like these newlyweds who spent their honeymoon volunteering for Mission Direct in Kenya.

Use digital media

Most local media is run on a shoestring with small teams and even less money. While they may not have many resources, they are good at using what they have, including digital media.The majority of local stories get posted online and journalists are increasing their use of video, audio and social media, so tap into this. Follow local journalists on Twitter, produce video of local events and offer to create podcasts for online radio content.

Think local

The same basic rules of PR apply when looking for local coverage – find a good story and hook, know your publication, use your 5Ws and cultivate your contacts – but there are a few basics to remember.

  • Find a local angle. Tap into the issues and topics that affect people in the area.
  • People power. A strong personal story is a great way to engage people.
  • Make it easy. A well written press release, pre-produced case studies and photos will all be appreciated by an overworked editor.
  • Use local celebs. Get the town’s mayor, breakfast radio presenter or favourite community character onboard to add interest.

Emma Jayne Jones, director of communications, Kizuka

Emma Jayne Jones is Director of Communications at Kizuka, a communications agency working with international NGOs.