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How to get your story covered by local media

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. 

Some areas have good hyperlocal sites too, who compete with local papers for content (eg  Birmingham Updates). Find out more about hyperlocal social media in this report from Nesta.


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'."

Further information

How to get started with the media.

How to write a brilliant press release.


    Page last edited Jan 09, 2017 History

    Comments (6)

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    A KnowHow member
    A KnowHow member on Dec 08, 2010 11:04 AM

    If I remember rightly from my journalism days, picking the right time to get in touch is crucial. If you're trying to attract interest from a weekly paper or magazine, call them the day the paper comes out (or in the case of trade mags, the day before), since the time immediately after going to press is when journalists are least busy. Calling a couple of days before their next issue is likely to be met with a brisk brush off at best!

    A KnowHow member
    A KnowHow member on Dec 08, 2010 11:43 AM

    I second the use of audio content - if you send it with a press release then it will either get added to an online piece, or the quotes will be used in a written article.

    A KnowHow member
    A KnowHow member on Dec 08, 2010 12:16 PM

    Sometimes a picture can tell the story better than words.

    Everyone likes some striking visual image to accompany news and journalists are no different.

    A KnowHow member
    A KnowHow member on Dec 08, 2010 01:17 PM

    If you've got a national story that you're looking to get some regional coverage for, make sure you've got a local or regional case study that you can draw on. This is particularly relevant for local radio.

    When approaching local and regional media, insert a quote
    from a local spokesperson to give it more relevance.

    Also, if it's a piece of research or polling that you're launching, are there any regional breakdowns you can extract? If you're able to compare the region/city to the national picture, so much the better!

    A KnowHow member
    A KnowHow member on Dec 08, 2010 03:38 PM

    I'd agree with what Brook's saying and go one step further: lead-in times for getting your story into the media are far shorter than many charities think.

    For example, while a weekly local listings magazine would be putting the finishing touches to the Christmas issue right now, many local monthlies are already starting on February 2011.

    To make sure you don't miss out, simply email your local publications and ask for their lead-in times. That way you won't miss their deadlines.

    If you're feeling brave, see if they fancy meeting for a coffee too, so you can tell them more about what your charity is up to during 2011.

    Journalist's lives are always hectic - but in the pre-Christmas lull they could be receptive to what you've got to say.

    You'll find some other useful tips in our Good Writing for Charities bulletin:

    A KnowHow member
    A KnowHow member on Dec 09, 2010 11:02 AM

    There's often an opportunity with local press to re-visit the hometown of your CEO/celebrity supporter/Board members with the 'look how well he/she has done' type of story. Doesn't work so well in London but I've used this for appointment stories in the past with success. When writing an appointment release for a senior appt, for example, then ask them where they went to school, university etc... alumni magazines can also e very receptive and widely read.

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