Local newspapers are often more widely read than national dailies. They can be an excellent target for charities who have good stories about their local communities. If the story gets good pick up then it can be sold into the national press. Here's how to ensure your story is covered.
Provide compelling stories with real people
Always offer a local angle or local case studies. This might take longer to sort out but it will give your campaign a greater impact. When what you are offering is competing with lots of other stories, this will help yours stand out.
It's all about the story
There is a sense that charity stories have become all surveys and no news. Local journalists dislike national surveys with simple regional facts so you need to be more imaginative.
Build relationships with journalists and producers
Send them an email with your idea and follow up with a phonecall. Get the ‘patch’ (target area) right when pitching ideas to producers. Know the programme or section you are pitching to and know the audience.
Remember deadlines, especially for local press
It’s is no good letting journalists know about a story the day before it happens or when the latest edition has gone to press. Advance warning is really important.
Think carefully about how you use celebrity interviewees
If you are offering interviews with celebrities to support a social campaign they need to be in a studio or using a reliable phone signal. If using Skype try to use a fast 4G or broadband connection. They also need to be empathetic, understand the organisation’s story and preferably have a personal link to the campaign themselves. Local journalists can spot a fraud a mile away.
Consider the changing media environment
More and more stations will consider using the audio and visual content you are creating (for example on Soundcloud or YouTube) rather than sending someone out themselves. They may want to use it on air or online but they really like to know about it in advance. This is for editorial reasons as well as enabling them to provide useful input. For local radio, if you are producing an audio diary or content from a particular area, do contact the local station in advance as they might be interested in working with you on producing this content.
Make the most of social media
Local news websites and radio stations get a lot of their content from social media channels - particularly Twitter. Follow your local media stations and when appropriate mention them on Twitter with information about your story. If the content you tweet is interesting they may follow you back and ask for more information about your story.
Be creative about the stories you offer
Dave Harvey, assistant editor at BBC Radio Leicester says, “I want my listener to be surprised and think ‘I didn’t know that'."