Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Five tips for working on a hyperlocal level

Although placements in hyperlocal publications might not spike your client’s interest like the cover of The New York Times, specific neighborhood coverage can be immensely valuable and help build your brand in the community.

Inspired by a current client project to distribute news to more than 50 markets across the U.S. on a neighborhood level, we’ve come up with some tried-and-true methods for researching and pitching hyperlocal publications. Many of these tips are relevant for all types of media relations activities, but these are especially important with hyperlocal pitching:
  1. Don’t underestimate a map. Is the new CFO you’re announcing from Minnesota? A particularly small town in Minnesota? The easiest way to find the DMA and other close cities to your target is to check a map. This can reveal the reach of top-tier publications, along with smaller cities and surrounding communities with publications that may cover the area, even when they aren’t explicitly listed. 
  2. Double check the coverage area of reporters before you contact them. Especially when using national media databases, it’s important to always check the publication websites for coverage maps. If the writer only reports news for West Palm Beach’s east half, don’t send news for West Palm Beach west. Pay close attention to coverage boundaries because no matter how great your pitch is, reporters only want news for their particular area. If there’s a tenuous link, spell out why that reporter should care.
  3. Be conscious of turnaround time. Many hyperlocal publications are online-only and are constantly looking for fresh content. Often, they can post news as soon as they receive it so be sure to include all details up front so your story makes headlines ASAP.
  4. Be prepared to provide your own visuals. Hyperlocal outlets may only have one person on staff per coverage area and no photographer to send out on assignments. If you already have professional photos taken of an event, an executive, or even an idea for alternate visuals, offer them up.
  5. Keep your eye out for new hyperlocal outlets. With the proven successes of sites like and Dallas’ Neighborsgo, the hyperlocal media business model is a trend that is here to stay. With larger newspapers in trouble and declining television viewership, hyperlocal outlets online and in print are springing up everywhere, so it’s imperative to constantly check for new outlets in each market.

 Post contributed by Vicky Smithee, @VSmithee


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

PR back-to-school checklist

It is back-to-school season and you know what that means…you’re busy (and probably stressed) going through your child’s checklist to get ready for the first day of school. While you’re in this back-to-school, super-organized mode, why not dedicate some of this energy and prep for your own professional development? Set a good example for your kids by completing your own PR checklist to ensure you’re ready to go “back to school” this fall when your clients’ events and media pitching are in full swing after the summer lull. 

Here is our back-to-school checklist for PR pros:
  • Finish your summer reading list – stop throwing those PR Tactics issues in the “read it later” pile. It’s time to dust them off and catch up on the latest PR/marketing trends. Just think, you may even learn a new trick or two. 
  • Review the course syllabus for the year – your “syllabus,” the editorial calendar,  is something PR pros can’t live without. Be sure to check and see what editorial coverage is on the horizon while following up with those journalists you haven’t spoken to in a while to see what they’ve got in the pipeline. You never know, you might score a new media placement. 
  • Buy school supplies – stop procrastinating! Do your research and buy that new media tracking or social media dashboard monitoring tool you’ve been talking about for a while now. 
  • Update your school directory – yes, I’m referring to those dreaded media lists.  It’s time to revisit those lists and scrub them clean of any outdated contacts or media outlets that have folded. Don’t forget to “hit the books” (or Google for that matter) to find new outlets and contacts to add to your lists. 
  • Check in with the “PTA” – and by PTA I don’t mean the parent-teacher association. I mean the association of public relations professionals, otherwise known as PRSA. Surf the PRSA website, connect with colleagues all over the U.S. and read up on new case studies and other insights that have been published. You’re sure to get some fresh, new ideas for the “school year.” 
  • Do your homework –sharpen your writing skills for the fall course load. Spend some time reviewing AP style additions, SEO trends or even how to write better copy for your press releases, marketing collateral, etc. One of my favorites is Wylie’s Writing Tips. You’re sure to pick up a few pointers.
What are you waiting for? Stop procrastinating and get to work or you’ll be pulling another “all-nighter,” making you think you’re back in college. There will be a test on the first day!

This post was contributed by Leah Ekmark.