Working with Local News Media to Publicize Your Business

Americans today are inundated with notifications about breaking news and the day’s top headlines from the minute they wake up to the time they finally set their smartphones/tablets/laptops aside for the night. Given the convenience and availability of social media platforms, apps, Alexa and traditional news mediums, staying connected and tuned in to current events is easier than ever before. And in an age where people are getting notifications sent straight to their smartphones and skimming through articles on their newsfeeds, people still look to their local media sources for their daily dose of news.

Aside from being a cost-free publicity tactic, trying to secure local news coverage will give your company direct exposure to local residents, and an opportunity to speak to existing and potential customers about various pest topics and the importance of working with a pest control professional without an advertising spend tied to it. Whether it is a large daily paper or a modest weekly publication, there are a number of ways for companies to make headlines and get involved in the local newscycle.

Although getting your company into the local news likely won’t cost any money, you’ll surely have to spend some of your time to do so. News outlets need to have a reason to feature your company. In order to warrant a spot in the local news, your company needs to be offering the community something interesting, relevant, newsworthy and timely. Here are some strategies for generating local news coverage for your company:

• Identify local news outlets: In order to get into the local news, you need to know who’s doing the neighborhood reporting. The same local televised newscast or newspaper you watch or read every day is the same one that could end up featuring your company. You can quickly begin to develop a list of local outlets by flipping through your local television channels, perusing the neighborhood newsstand, and doing an online search for news outlets that cover your area. Once you identify your local news outlets, look up their contact information online, as most publications and stations will provide a phone number or email address you can use to reach out regarding ideas or stories that you think they might be interested in covering.

• Build relationships with the media: After identifying your local news outlets, do some research to figure out who’s reporting on issues or stories that are relevant to your business (i.e. home maintenance, pest topics, summer safety). If a reporter wrote a story about a local case of West Nile virus, reach out to them with mosquito prevention tips. If you’re able to find their contact information online, send them story ideas or offer your expert insights. If contact information is not available online, call their newsdesk to find out who the right editor would be to share your news with. Once you’ve established your company as the go-to resource for pest-related issues, reporters will likely begin to reach out for information when needed and include company insights and quotes in their stories.

• Serve as a resource: Reporters and journalists are constantly looking for insights from industry experts to add substance and credibility to their stories. Whether you can provide tips on how to keep ants out of the house or information regarding the current mosquito presence in the area, positioning your company as the local authority on all things pest-related will give news organizations a reason to include your company in local coverage. Be sure to appoint an official company spokesperson who reporters can directly attribute quotes and information to. The selected individual should be knowledgeable, well-spoken, and ready to provide insights or an interview at a moment’s notice. Once you’ve identified your local outlets, reach out to them with tips and insights, or offer your company as a resource when needed. Additionally, be sure to provide them with relevant and up-to-date news. If you’re seeing an uptick in termite calls, use that insider information to grab a reporter’s attention. For subscribers, PPMA Mainframe offers a number of customizable and timely press releases throughout the year for companies to repurpose for their own media relations efforts.

• Support your community: Whenever there’s a charitable neighborhood event, you can be sure that it’ll end up on the local news in some shape or form. Getting involved with these types of events, such as donating funds to a local 5K race for charity, can help get your company included in news coverage of the event. In addition to helping out with existing activities, consider sponsoring your own community event. For instance, your company can host a local tire drive during which residents can dispose of old or unused tires that may be serving as mosquito breeding sites on their property. You could also organize an educational event for the community, distributing information and resources that local residents can use to stay safe from pests. Once you decide to host an event, get in touch with local news outlets to let them know about it and see if they’d like to attend.

Conducting local media relations is a cost effective, impactful and rewarding marketing strategy. Inclusion in the community news cycle will help expose your business to local residents, the people your company ultimately serves and caters to. Articles or stories that attribute insights and information to your company will help establish your reputation as the local authority and expert when it comes to industry topics. These features and exposure serve to generate organic brand awareness and consumer trust. Additionally, working with the local media is a two-way street that benefits both parties. By providing useful resources and information to reporters when needed, they’ll hopefully reward your company by coming back to you for future stories, potentially giving your company more and more media coverage. In comparison to newspaper advertisements or television commercials, quotes and features within articles and reports characterize your company as a local organization trying to help the community, rather than sell them something. Although it may take some time and effort, generating local news coverage is an effective way to market your company as not only a business, but also as a community resource and fixture.

Cindy Mannes is the executive director of the Professional Pest Management Alliance. Visit www.npmapestworld.org/ppma for more information on how you can become involved.

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