We all know that national print and broadcast are the “Holy Grail” to clients, but there is a certain allure to local and regional coverage as well. Perhaps it’s the appeal of having your grandma see your product mentioned on her local news channel or reading about your event in her hometown newspaper.
Whatever the draw, it’s undeniable that regional news has credibility to its loyal audience and therefore should be a target we take seriously in our outreach. Here are a few things I’ve learned to keep in mind when pitching locals:
1. Do Your Homework
Especially when pitching local broadcast, do a quick Google search of the city before you dial. There might be sunshine in New York City, but a tornado watch in St. Louis. You’re not going to make any friends if you call in the middle of that. Also, if you were never quite sure where Tulsa was on the map, or how to pronounce Des Moines, now is the time to find out, so you can speak credibly about the city.
2. Adapt, Adapt, Adapt!
I’m sure your PR cover letter said you were detail-oriented, flexible and adaptive. Put those skills to use when pitching local media! Especially on the phone, take cues from the person you’re speaking with. This will put them at ease, increase the chances that they’ll want to engage with you and hopefully, agree to what you’re asking. For example, when pitching media in Charlotte, NC, I found that I was more successful if I spoke slowly and started the conversation by asking the person how their day was going. In New York City, I’d get hung up on for that.
3. 1 Mile: 100 Miles
You’ve heard the observation that people are more concerned if one person dies one mile away than if 100 people die 100 miles away. Apply that to regional outreach. When pitching local breast cancer walks for the Avon Foundation, we generally have more success securing interviews for local breast cancer survivors than for the president of the Foundation. I know this may come as a shock to our New York-centric sensibilities, but sometimes even a celebrity has less appeal to the folks in your hometown than your grandma does.