Creating a media relations strategy that will achieve your communications goals can be an uphill battle, especially when you’re under pressure to get placements in top-tier publications. It’s not that what you’re pitching isn’t worthy, but with media, there’s a tendency to only think about the “big fish” and forget about the just-as-mighty, and often more valuable, “smaller fish.” (Yes, I went there.)
Simply put, to truly succeed in media relations, you can’t blast your idea and hope it sticks. Instead, targeting your message to the publications where it will resonate most is always the winning model. And more often than not, those aren’t the Wall Street Journals and New York Times of the world. I’m not suggesting you forget about them entirely, but I am recommending you consider who you’re really looking to reach – and where you’re most likely to find them, hook them and reel them in. You’ll be surprised to find many of them closer to “home.”
Why You Should Think – and Pitch – Local
There are benefits to thinking locally. For example, say you’re a company looking to rally people around a cause or issue happening nationally that also greatly impacts communities on a smaller, more regional scale (e.g., clean water or safe health care). Your first instinct might be to target the New York Times because it reaches A LOT of people. You can assume many American households receive the publication and read it (or at least scan the headlines) daily. But are they the right people – the ones who are most likely to get excited about the cause? To participate? To share? To donate? Probably not. But those reading about the local impact of the cause or issue in the “Anywhere Town Ledger” or the “ABC Community Gazette,” for example, probably would. Go to your audience where they already are; don’t expect them to come to you.
At Stern Strategy Group, we believe regional media relations strategies can be powerful when executed effectively and appropriately. Not only are you connecting with the right audience in the right way, you’re also able to form close relationships with journalists who are likely solely focused on your topic – and from there, those relationships can lead to even bigger, more meaningful opportunities.
What it boils down to is this: positioning your expert or organization as a thought leader requires strategy, and if the media relations program you develop doesn’t break through the crowded and commoditized marketplace and reach the audience that will propel your brand forward, you’ve wasted time and money.
Don’t fall into the trap of believing bigger is always better. Does your communications plan target key audiences where they already are?