Support Your Local Community Press

Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Pitching media and public relations go together like peanut butter and jelly.

Any client or company with a PR function understands that getting free (or “earned”) media coverage goes a long way in building reputation and awareness.

While media pitches brings to mind the big-wig names (who doesn’t want their pixellated image on the cover of the Wall Street Journal?), I’d like to pose a simple plea to PR folks everywhere: Support your local community press!

The next time you’re building a media pitch list or prepping for a significant media push for your client/company, consider if the information is also relevant to the local community press.

Why should you care about the community press?

Despite the popularity of digital media, people still read newspapers.

And even more comforting is the fact that people are still reading their local community newspapers.

A recent survey by the National Newspaper Association found that 73 percent of those surveyed read their local newspaper at least once a week. The NNA survey also found that those readers often share their paper with an average of three other people–talk about word of mouth.

There are also numerous ethnic community newspapers available throughout major metropolitan cities.

Hispanic weekly and less than weekly newspapers have risen over the past couple of years, although the number of Hispanic daily newspapers has declined.

But despite the rosy picture, community newspapers are not without the strains to advertising dollars and declining circulation at the major press.

What does this mean for PR pros?

Image: healingdream / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I admit I have a slight bias having worked at community newspapers in the past. I know these papers have a value to the neighborhoods and communities they cover.

But I believe it’s worth the exercise to consider community newspapers on your next media list if the information is relevant to a specific neighborhood or community issue.

I stress only if it’s relevant to the community you’re pitching because most community papers can’t be bothered with garbage that takes up their news or advertising space. They shouldn’t be treated as rinky-dink operations just because they only publish once a week.

To become familiar with the community’s interests, it helps if you obtain a copy of the community newspaper you’re considering and read its past coverage.

Also, when working with ethnic community papers, consider the cultural and linguistic barriers to reaching their audience. It helps to have a press release or event announcement already translated so their editors or reporters can more readily print it.

The end result, if you have a pitch that garners space in the community paper, is that you make a connection to their readers and thus, that community.

It’s not a magic bullet to your next media pitch plan, but exploring your options in the community press doesn’t hurt.

Community papers turn up on our doorsteps without subscription each week, offering a glimpse into the micro-local news scene. 

I believe PR can do good work in supporting them with relevant community-geared information so that they, in turn, can continue to provide information at the door-to-door level.

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January 24, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , . media, media relations, news media, public relations.

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