Getting your message into the local newspaper can be a great way to raise the community’s awareness of your organization or program. And fortunately it can be quite easy to achieve if you are willing to help the journalist, which is often also the editor and owner, to do their job.
Local newspapers work differently from their big-city cousins. They normally have a very small staff who are often working three different jobs to get the newspaper out on time – writing, photography, editing, selling advertising and more. So helping them by sending them an almost complete package for them to print can really enhance your chance of making it into their publication.
Local newspaper – a case study
Here is an example. I decided to run a course at the local school as part of its Adult Education program on how to be a blogger. I wanted to get the course better known in my local town and so I decided to get an item in the local newspaper. The first step was to develop a press release that would cover the information I wanted to get across. I followed the press release rules, but because it was going to a local newspaper, I knew I needed to provide more than just the bare-bones. So I structured the release more like a complete article.
Here is the press release (click to download as a pdf)
I had a friend take a photo that I could send along with the press release so that the story had more elements to grab the reader and again, make the journalist’s life easier. Here is the photo I attached. You will notice in the press release that I provided a simple caption for the photo, again to help the journalist out.
Once completed and proofread for errors (no matter how careful you are, you should always have someone proofread it before you hit “send”) I emailed the story off to the journalist’s email address that was listed in the newspaper.
A week later, here is the article that appeared in the local paper.
Success in the local paper – this this case the Bridgton News.
So if you are prepared to do most of the work in writing and providing photos, you can get items into local newspapers fairly easily. However, don’t abuse this wonderful opportunity by flooding them with stories. Like all media encounters, use it sparingly only when it really will count.