At the Bradford Group, we have extensive knowledge of the Nashville media landscape and great relationships with Nashville reporters, editors and producers. But for many of our clients, it’s just as important to get media coverage outside of Nashville as it is locally.
The fundamentals of working with reporters are the same no matter if they’re in Nashville, Chicago or a small town in Idaho. In my previous job, I worked for a publicity firm in Chicago that represented franchise companies. Working with franchisees across the country, I pitched local markets and secured placements in markets across the country on a daily basis.
I had never met the journalists I worked with in person, but that did not affect my ability to place stories outside of Chicago. Here’s how we get media coverage outside of our local market:
- Provide good content. A lot of people say that you have to have a relationship with a reporter to secure an article. It certainly doesn’t hurt, but what you really must have is a valuable story idea. If you’re pitching something newsworthy, it doesn’t matter if the reporter has never heard of you.
- Localize it. The most important thing when pitching a story is to give the reporter an idea that fits what he or she covers. For local newspapers and TV stations, that means they need a story that is relevant to their local readers and viewers. Make the connection to their town clear from the beginning of the pitch.
- Do the research. A good Google search goes a long way in creating a media list outside of your home market. Small towns almost always have a weekly newspaper, and they’re often offshoots of the daily newspaper if the town is close to a metro area. For bigger cities, always check for a daily newspaper, business journal, alternative weekly, parent and other magazines and the local FOX, ABC, NBC and CBS affiliates. We also use a database called Cision to supplement our searches.
- Pitch the right outlet. Local weekly newspapers or Patch.com sites typically have a very specific coverage area. Check the website or call the newsroom to see what towns the publication covers before pitching. You can also check the website to see if the paper does any regular features that could work for your client.
- Pick up the phone. Emails can get lost in the madness of a reporter’s inbox. A quick follow up call is necessary to make sure the reporter sees your pitch. Just wait a couple of days before following up.
- Develop relationships. Reporters appreciate good story ideas and responsiveness with photo and interview requests. If you make their job easier, they’ll continue to reach out for additional stories—even if you aren’t based in their market.
Nashville holds a special place in our media hearts, but we’re happy working with reporters all over. Over the last three years, I’ve placed stories for my clients in markets from Hawaii to New York, Florida to California and many places in between. There’s a feeling of comfort when returning to markets I’ve worked in, but nothing is more exciting for a publicist than trying something new.
Photo credit: Lauren Michell Rabaino