Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Put the Local Angle Back in Your Local News Tip

Lichfield District Council © 2010
I read an interesting article from the DailyComet.com, a Lafourche Parish, Louisiana publication. The article, “Adventures in ‘local’ public-relations news tips,” was humorous but touched on some key points about individuals who practice public relations. Columnist Laura McKnight expressed a concern about the “often-useless public-relations calls” that she receives. In her article, she goes on to highlight the awkward moments when a PR professional butchers a local town’s name; painstakingly having to listen to news that is not in fact local at all in nature, but more suited to a place 50 miles away; and rants about how there is a “national” day/week for everything under the sun.

My fellow PR professionals, I beg you – Please do your research before approaching a writer, editor, columnist, blogger, or any other journalistic professional.  In order to maintain the sanctity of our profession we must go back to our entry level days, better yet – our undergraduate public relations courses. During those early days of our careers our mentors and professors taught us the value of research. We must utilize those skills even now; it is imperative.

When I draft a press release or a pitch letter, the first thing I do is decide who my audience will be. You typically have two audiences: 1) publication/editor or writer and 2) the publication’s readers. McKnight was right to pen her frustrations for PR professionals to find. One Google Map search would have easily shown her caller that McKnight’s town was far away from New Orleans;  another call to get the proper pronunciation of her town would have saved her an awkward moment; and one quick review of the DailyComet.com’s local section would reveal that local news is purely that…LOCAL.

Again, if you want to cultivate more media coverage for your clients and/or company…put the REAL local angle back into your local news tip. The publications you are trying to place stories in could care less about news from the major cities that are near by. Give them a story they can be proud to share with their readers; give them a story about their town, their people, their businesses.

Regine J. Nelson is founder and principal of Allure Marketing Communications. Allure specializes in small business, consumer products, nonprofit and start-up PR. Email regine@allure-pr.com for a free consultation.

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