We’ve all seen or heard local news coverage of local businesses running or participating in charity events. Whether it’s a small shout out in a local paper like this one for Mohawk Animal Clinic, who is raising money to help support a family and their cats after a house fire, or a whole article, like this one about a veterinarian who hosts a Christmas party for local underprivileged children each year, local news loves to cover positive human interest stories.
Have you ever read one of these stories and thought, “How do I get my event covered by the local media?” Maybe it seems like the kind of thing that happens by chance or good connections. Fortunately, there are things you can do to alert the local media about your next fundraising effort or charity event. With a little bit of extra effort and planning, you can inform the media and increase the chances of seeing your next event in the local news:
4 steps to encouraging local media coverage for your next event
Step 1. Consider your purpose
Before you contact the local media, you need to know what your goal is. Do you want a journalist to show up at your event or are you just looking for someone to announce that the event is happening? Knowing what you’re trying to accomplish can help you take the right steps to make it happen. For example, some radio stations and newspapers have pages where you can apply to have your event announced over the air or in a special event column. If that’s all you want, you can skip the steps below and go fill out those forms. If you’re looking for more in-depth coverage, it may take a little more time and effort.
Step 2. Figure out who to contact
Before you reach out to the local media, you need to figure out who the local media. This includes deciding which radio stations, local television stations, and newspapers you want to contact. But don’t forget about other forms of media as well. Research whether or not there are any groups based on interest in your area, such as dog-walking or pet-owning communities, and consider adding them to your list as well. And don’t forget about the Internet! Some news organizations exist solely online now, so look for websites or Facebook Pages that cater specifically to your local area.
In addition to figuring out which media you want to target, figure out who your contact should be. Think about what segment or section your content would fit into (probably not the sports section!) and figure out the writers and broadcasters who are responsible for those sections. Those are the people you’ll want to reach out to. Also check for a contact form on the website, which may help you reach the right people.
Step 3. Reach out early
Make sure you’re giving the person you’re contacting some notice. Don’t send this email the day before the event. Send your email between 2-4 weeks beforehand.
Step 4. Send a media alert
Once you’ve figured out who to contact, it’s time to send out an alert. You need the following key components to craft a good alert. Here’s how you should set your email up:
Write a headline here (and make it interesting)
What: What is the event and its purpose?
Who: Who are you/your practice
Why: This is the most important part, and the area you should give the most attention to. It’s really the selling point of your pitch – it tells people why your event is worth attending. Ideally, you want to give them a hook, as in, what’s the aspect of your story that will be interesting to their audience (e.g., a single cat and its offspring can produce 40,000 kittens in 7 years. Your spay clinic is working to help prevent that in the community). If you’ve paid attention to past programming, you could even connect your pitch to a previous story, to show that you are familiar with their content and their audience.
[Don’t invite the contact to cover your event. Make your invite an invitation only. The fact that you want coverage is implied.] Who should attend: Is your event open to everyone, to pet owners, etc.
When: Give the time (or range of times if the event is drop-in) and address of the event.
Where: Where your event will take place. Be sure to include any relevant information such as parking or any unusual directions to the event (e.g., around the back of the building).
Media Contact: Give the name and contact information of the person at your practice (most likely you!) who you’ve designated to interact with the media
It doesn’t have to be long. In fact, keep it pretty brief – no more than 1 page, and include it in the body of your email. You can include each of the W’s in the paragraph body, to help the person reading the alert find the relevant information they’re looking for.We can’t guarantee that these steps will get your media coverage for your next event. But we can say that taking these steps can increase your odds. It can’t hurt to let the local media know when your practice is doing something big. You never know what could happen!