By Doreen Clark
Public relations is an attractive business tool, because it can provide a wide range of exposure. If you’re a company that’s just starting to employ a public relations strategy, you may have your heart set on targeting either local media (for a specific location), or national media (for the brand). But you may want to do both.
By limiting yourself to a local PR strategy, you will exhaust your media-relations reach in a relatively short period of time. Depending on the industry and the topic, there may only be a handful of local news sources (if any) that will bite on your pitch. And once they cover your company, they have little reason to regularly cover it again. Therefore, the best strategy for establishing your brand is not exclusively relying on local sources. Likewise, going straight for top national coverage in the most elite publications (such as Forbes, The New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal) may be a bit unrealistic. Not that you shouldn’t have lofty goals and shoot for the stars.
But a truly effective and lasting public relations program involves laying a foundation, then carefully constructing the building blocks. Only then can you establish a solid brand, become an industry thought leader, get a well-rounded amount of coverage, and ultimately add value and deliver results.
So where do you start? Here are three ways to combine local and national PR strategies:
1. Lay a Solid Foundation with Local Media Coverage
It’s understandable that SMB companies want to concentrate on local media. After all, dealing with a small news market is less intimidating for executives on the front lines, as they may not be used to dealing with the media.
Depending on the topic, getting local press coverage can be easier to attain. So, use this reality to your advantage. Get your executives out there in front of local reporters. Then they’ll build confidence and get used to working with the press.
Plus, getting some local coverage is a great way to start building your brand, which will set you up for bigger and better things. But don’t stop there.
2. Use Regional and Trade Outlets as Your Building Blocks
Next, take that local coverage and introduction to media training to the next level, by targeting regional news outlets and trade publications. Regional news outlets open you up to a wider audience. By getting exposure in trade publications that specialize in your market area or the market areas of your customers, you’ll expand and strengthen your customer base.
Refine your messaging, and start pitching it to regional and trade outlets. They may quote your executives as experts in their fields. And better yet, you may even get to contribute an article written by one of your top execs, which will put your company on the map as a trusted advisor. To attain the golden coverage, you need to reach these building blocks.
3. Go for the Gold and Score National Coverage
Now that you’ve created a solid local media foundation and reinforced it with the building blocks of regional and trade exposure, it’s time to go for the gold. Yes, it’s hard to get national publications to pay attention to you, unless you’re Elon Musk. But it is possible.
By building relationships with regional and trade reporters, getting your executives quoted, and covering your products, you have officially established your company as a thought leader in your space. So, start selling yourself as one.
Reporters will always cover what’s already hot. But they also long to discover the next big thing, which could be you. Leverage your smaller successes by showing them off and go after the big dogs. Tell them how and why you’re a leader, an innovator, a disruptor. Explain what sets you apart from the rest, and why they should care.
Who knows? They might listen, and you may find yourself in one of the top national news outlets, which could catapult your brand and your company to new heights. However, it is important to remember that when looking to be in the “big” outlets, look past the numbers and be sure that the outlet is on your buyer personas reading list. If not, you’re wasting your time.
An effective PR program uses as many media sources as possible. It doesn’t discount the value of good local press coverage. And it doesn’t write off the national media as something that’s unattainable. Instead, your public relations program should target a variety of media (from local to trade to national) and play them off one another, which will validate and strengthen your brand.