Connect at a grass roots level: Eight tips to generate PR in your own backyard

Starting out on your own DIY PR journey can be daunting especially when it comes to contacting the media. At PR Guru we often suggest to start local and connect at a grass roots level.

Regional and suburban journalists have a vested interest in getting to know the ‘who’s who’ of the community.  Most importantly, they are looking for reliable sources so here’s your opportunity to become a trusted confidant.

Not only are they easy to approach, they are often open to story ideas and will respond reasonably quickly. Know who the journalists are and what they look like so you can introduce yourself when you’re out and about at the next local event.

However, be aware the days of ‘schmoozing’ your local journo with long lunches or expecting them to attend late night functions are rare. With the size of traditional media contracting and budgets tightening, journalists have less time yet more material to read.

The best way to communicate is via a succinct, easy-to-absorb email. Networking is nice, but it doesn’t always ensure column inches or air time.

Here’s our eight tips on how to generate PR in your own backyard:

  1. Get to know your local print media. Writers at local newspapers tend to spend long periods at the same post, so it’s worthwhile forming solid relationships with them.
  2. Become familiar with what days photographers work for your local print media and plan your launches etc around them. Some smaller newspapers have freelance photographers that work on certain days only and don’t always have someone on hand to take photos on alternate days.
  3. Invite your local journalist to local events and launches, but don’t expect them to attend night or weekend functions unless they have a vested interest. If the media can’t attend an event ask them if they would like to receive a follow up media release and photos.
  4. Don’t expect that if you give a journalist a free ticket to a performance or dinner that they will automatically give you the coverage you desire.  They are governed by an editor who may be juggling space commitments.
  5. Be open to including giveaways for readers.  Often the cost is minimal compared to the extra space you may get and it’s giving something back to the local community.
  6. Often local media will ask for supporting advertising.  Don’t feel pressured if you don’t have the budget, your news will probably still attract free editorial coverage.  Likewise, don’t solely place advertising without negotiating some free editorial space.
  7. Don’t become a serial ‘drop in’ to ‘let them know’ about upcoming news – physically or through email. Wait until you have all the information at hand and then send it through.
  8. Your local community is just that – local, so be aware of what you say on or off the record about your competitors or local identities.

And finally, if you don’t have the time to write a press release or the resources, simply put in your email the who, what, when, where, how and why of your news and send it to the journalist.

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