Almost all organizations and businesses like to be featured in the local news and for good reason. However, many press release emails are deleted without being read. That’s money left on the table, opportunities lost. To give you a better shot at garnering local news coverage for your business, i4Series presents 8@8: “PR Tips: Getting Local News Coverage for Your Business.”

Why should you care? First, earned media is free. You don’t pay for it like you do with paid media and it sits on the Internet, virtually forever. Paid media disappears the minute you stop paying. Another reason deals with consumer trust, as researched by Nielsen, the big research and TV ratings company that determines which station is number one. Nielsen researchers find that 92% of consumers trust earned media, while only 50% of consumers trust paid advertisements. If your company is featured on the news, depending on the story, it could have a positive impact on your business. Sales people know this and use it to their advantage. According to Nielsen, earned media is leveraged by 93% of sales representatives who work for the businesses or companies that receive it.

You’re spending the time or money it takes to generate a press release. You’re proud of it and expect your phone to ring once it’s sent out, but you can’t get reporters to call you back. Why? What’s the disconnect? According to Tim Waller, most news releases fail because they are too much like a sales pitch and are just not newsworthy. He says you shouldn’t try to sell a product or service. Instead, find something that’s new or has a news hook and pitch that.

Tim Waller is the first speaker for the i4Series 8@8 Business Breakfast events, a series of free events that cover 8 key points on a particular topic, starting at 8am, on the 8th floor of Clemson ONE in the Phyfer Innovation Hub. No matter what your profession, join us and learn from some of the most respected leaders in our area. The next 8@8 event is Monday, August 5th, when we’ll cover “The Top 8 Legal Mistakes Made in Business in 2019.” Click here to register while there are still seats left! (The first one sold out!) Check out our Get Involved page for a complete list of upcoming i4Series networking and business development events.

8 PR Tips: Getting Local News Coverage for Your Business

  • Make sure the story you pitch is actually newsworthy. For example, “How to beef up your summer salads,” is not likely to get coverage. On the other hand, a story about how a “Local company aims to boost safety at construction sites,” might be covered after a death or injury happens at a local construction site.
  • Get to the point quickly. Reporters don’t like reading long emails. That means you should put the most newsworthy information, including a “news hook,” in the first few sentences.
  • Pitch to the right reporter. Figure out in advance who does what. A crime reporter, for example, is less likely to read a press release or story pitch about a new business in town.
  • Make sure your story pitch is truthful and delivers what it promises. If reporters think they’re going to be able to interview a particular person or have access to get certain video or photographs to accompany the story, and they don’t, it’s a huge let down and they have to answer to their producers about why the story didn’t turn out the way they pitched it during the morning’s editorial meeting.
  • Give reporters access to the movers and shakers, not your PR and marketing department. They want to speak with the people who are directly involved with the story. Don’t worry about your company’s CEO or other person involved saying everything perfectly on camera. Reporters only pick the very best soundbites for the story.
  • Pitch a local angle on a national story. Newsrooms are always looking for ways to localize national news. Find an expert within your business or organization who’s qualified to speak on national issues. For example, if there’s a story about California considering a ban on facial recognition software and your company develops facial recognition software, you could be featured on the news as a “local expert” who can offer a different angle to this national story.
  • Offer them an exclusive on the story… but beware. If you tell a TV news station that they can have the exclusive story, and they wake up the next day to see it featured in the newspaper, that’s not exclusive and will not win you any friends in the newsroom.
  • Get to know a reporter without actually pitching a story. Having someone in the newsroom who knows you, someone you can call or email directly, will increase your chances of being covered.

Tim left the news business in April, after 25 years in the business, to start his own public relations firm, Waller PR. He offers media training and crisis communications. You can reach him at 864.313.1108 and