Local marketing: connecting with the media

As an SEO Pro professional, I’ve been able to develop and maintain strong relationships with several members of the local media. I’ve even been able to establish relationships with key contacts in several other city media markets who cover news from my clients.

Through the years, I’ve learned what works –and what sets you back– when attempting to secure coverage for yourself or clients. Follow the rules below, and it will bring you one step closer to securing that feature story in your local market’s daily newspaper, business journal, or on your local television station.

Don’t be a stranger

Introduce yourself. Your relationship with a reporter doesn’t have to be all business. Take them out for coffee or lunch, and really get to know the people behind the headlines: What do they like? Where do they live? What are their favorite sports teams? Make a personal connection, so when you do have to talk business, they’ll recognize your name and connect with you on a friendlier platform.

Be persistent, without being a pain

When conducting follow up or trying to secure an initial meeting, be persistent. Persistence doesn’t give you the green light to call a reporter five times a day and leave 30 messages in one week. Know where the line is, and be sure not to cross it. If you have established a good relationship with a reporter, you won’t need to stalk them; you know they will return your call or email when they have a minute to breathe.

Don’t withhold information

More is better. Always offer more information than is necessary for your pitch. If you are pitching a specific expert as a source for a local trend piece, be sure to mention all the areas in which your expert is fluent. Have a complete bio prepared. If you do, or even if you don’t secure something with your first attempt, the reporter now has a list of subjects they can refer to in order to use you or your client for a source.

Don’t be lazy

The more work you can do on your end, the less time reporters have to spend researching or writing —making their jobs much easier, and making you one of their favorite people. Always offer more than enough information, whether you’re providing contact information and availability for interviews, or sending press releases and quotes electronically (making cutting and pasting easier). A source that a reporter can rely on to offer everything he or she needs is one they will turn back to time and time again.

It’s important to stay on a reporter’s “good side” during your work with your local media. Over time, these relationships can even turn into friendships, which make your professional relationship that much more rewarding.

Stay on top of current industry trends, beats particular reporters cover, and the media coverage of your competitors. General knowledge of –and a sense of awareness for– your local media will help you to secure the story you want, and establish yourself, your client, or your agency as a reputable source that can be called upon for future stories.

So, how do you start? Consider using social media to track your local reporters. From Facebook to Twitter to blogs, reporters are everywhere, and social media opens a door to casual conversation—and a window into their personal lives as well—that allows business and marketing people to connect with them on a whole different level.

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