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Building a relationship with the local media

Every county in Ireland has at least one local newspaper, with some having as much as five or six. Local newspapers continue to prevail despite the downturn, with an Ipsos MRBI survey (Oct 2011) showing that when compared year on year, readership of local newspaper titles is only marginally down compared with national titles at -3.8pc.

The retention of weekly newspapers is 5.9 days, with readers spending twice as long reading them compared to a national daily title. A resounding 86pc of readers say that they rely on their local newspaper for news about their local area. All of this shows just how important it is for businesses to contribute to these newspapers and to be seen as a source of news whenever they can.

These newspapers report on local issues and as a local business, you have the potential to be a spokesperson or commentator on certain topics. Not only could you be called on to comment, but you can also distribute press releases to your local media to build your business’ profile and garner some free publicity.

Here are some suggestions on how to build your relationship with local media and increase your business’ profile:

Making Contact
Unless you have a breaking news story, the majority of journalists prefer to be contacted by email. An introductory email, briefly explaining what your company does, can help to build a working relationship. Do not call immediately after sending an email to see have they received it, but rather include in the email that a follow-up phone call can be arranged.

Timing
Find out the content deadlines for the newspaper and what day it goes to print. This means you will know when to have any press releases sent in and what times are best to contact the journalist.

Quality
If you are writing anything for a local newspaper, ensure that you provide quality copy on time. Try to keep your articles or press releases short and to the point, with good quotes that can be used. Some of the biggest mistakes made in press releases are capitalising too many words and spelling mistakes. Press releases will not be used if they are purely promotional and contain no newsworthy material. Including a quote can also give it some credibility.

Format
Avoid any different fonts or formatting in your press release. Stick to traditional font and styling and instead of attaching the press release as a document, include it in the body of the email, improving its chances of being read.

Photos
As many publications and media outlets have had to cut their budgets, providing high quality images with your articles can often be an effective way of ensuring you get printed. If you are including photographs, ensure they are of a professional standard and are high resolution, i.e. 300dpi/1KB or more, to ensure they are suitable for print.

Advertise
As they are generally small operations, local media rely heavily on advertising to make a profit. If you are a regular advertiser with the newspaper, they may be more receptive to any press releases you send in. Advertising in local newspapers is money well invested too, as they can often be a reference or source of information in a household when someone is looking for the contact details of a business. There is also the factor that, as it is a local publication, people are more likely to pay attention to the advertisements.

Community Notes
If you are hosting any events, make sure to have them included in the community notes pages as well as sending in a press release. Make sure the newspaper is aware of these events as they may send a photographer out, which will result in coverage for your business.

To find out some more tips on writing press releases, click here.

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