Do You Have A Relationship With Local Reporters?

You watch the TV news, you read the paper, and you search for it online. Ever wondered where it came from?

It comes from people just like you. Without people sending local reporters press releases and interesting information, the news days would be much slower.

What can a small shop owner or business like you do to earn some press? The first thing you can do is build the relationship.

So, we ask the question, “Do you have a relationship with local reporters?” Let’s discuss how to build that rapport.

Research Local Reporters

Your first step is to conduct a bit of research. Watch each of your local news stations during the morning, noon and evening news casts.

Subscribe to newspapers, including the local neighborhood papers. Be sure and either subscribe to or pick up copies of local magazines.

Don’t forget the local online media. Visit these websites often paying special attention to writer’s bylines. In addition, join any organizations where you’re likely to meet reporters, producers and editors.

Learn the Important Names

Now that you have a broad knowledge of the local media, make a list of the local reporters who are most likely to cover the beats that matter to you.

For example, if you run a hospital, look for the medical reporter. If you own a string of restaurants, check out the reporters who cover dining out, special events and lifestyle news. If you run a retail store, you might look at the lifestyle editor as well as the society page reporter.

Meet the Reporters

This can sometimes be the most intimidating step – the personal meeting. Yet, it is the most important step. You don’t want to pitch your ideas until you’ve met the reporter (or editor) face-to-face.

Start out small. Follow the reporter on Facebook and Twitter. Like their tweet or post and retweet or share it. Do this slowly so you don’t look like you’re stalking them.

Then, you can arrange a meeting at your business, their office or a neutral location like a restaurant or coffee shop.

Keep the meeting brief and respect their busy schedule. Journalists work on deadlines and tight schedules. You’ll want to arrange your first contact around their timetable, not yours.

You can also initiate your first contact with a reporter at a community event like a Chamber of Commerce meeting or networking luncheon. Then, you can arrange another more formal meeting.

Take some collateral with information about your business with you.

Another option is to check around and see if any of your co-workers, friends or family know the reporters personally. Ask them for an initial introduction. You’ll find this a great way to initiate contact.


Building and Maintaining the Relationship

Don’t be the business owner that only reaches out when he wants something.

Your goal is to stay in touch on an ongoing basis, especially when you aren’t looking for media coverage.

For example, if you own a restaurant, periodically invite the reporter for lunch. Or, send the reporter a coupon for a complimentary meal at his convenience. If the reporter asks you for a favor, do your best to grant it.

Another way to maintain the relationship is to follow the reporter’s articles on their news station’s website and social media and comment on them and share them. You’re doing them a big favor by spreading their news for them.

You’ll find that if you do them these small favors, they’re more likely to offer you the write-up or article.

Help Them Out

Be the expert they always call on.

For example, you’re a university professor with a background in terrorism. You can establish yourself as their go-to expert. By helping them out with the quote or live-shot, you’re helping them accomplish their objectives.

When you become a source for them, they’ll be more likely to reach out to you and honor your requests for coverage as well.

Provide Newsworthy Information

You can build your relationship with local reporters by always providing them with newsworthy information.

The reporters trust people who send them valid news more than those who send fluffy, self-promoting items.

By earning their trust, they’ll be more likely to open your emails and know they contain newsworthy items.

Since only 53% of press releases are ever published, you’ve got some work to do when it comes to providing reporters what they want. It’s a good idea to ask them what they’re looking for, so you are sure to provide it.

Final Thoughts

Don’t set building a relationship with local reporters on the back burner. Incorporate it into your overall marketing strategy.

It does take time and effort, but it’s well worth your while to be top of mind with your local reporters.

You can count on local media coverage to educate customers about your products and services on occasion, but it can also help you position yourself as a respected business leader in your community.

Having a relationship with local reporters also provides you with free or incredibly low cost PR and marketing. So get out there and take the first step towards building media relationships today.

How did you build a relationship with your favorite reporter? Please comment below to share your tips with others.