Pitching local affiliates of broader national news organizations, like the Associated Press or NPR, can be a great way to place a local story and amplify it to a national audience. From my vantage point as a former AP reporter, I spoke to FGH’s Health Media Insights newsletter about what it takes to earn coverage from these local affiliates and even get that story picked up by their national outlet.
- Demonstrate local impact. If the story isn’t genuinely about the local area, it’s going to be hard to get traction, so make sure your story is relevant to that location specifically.
- Connect to larger national trends. The best way to land a local story that will get picked up nationally is to have a strong local pitch that has broader implications elsewhere in the country or across an industry.
- Find the right contact. Even though a local station is part of a larger news organization, it’s important to identify the right local reporter or producer. Often, general news desk contacts can help circulate pitches to multiple beat reporters.
- Timing is everything. For broadcast, most of the day’s news stories and assignments are not decided until the morning of. If you’re pitching an evergreen story, you’ll likely need to wait for a slow news day or have a direct news hook.
- Keep it short, and don’t forget to follow up. Local newsrooms are notoriously understaffed and under-resourced. Be mindful of how busy these reporters are. Consider whether it makes sense to send a full press release or just a short note to help pique their interest. If they don’t respond, send a follow-up note or pick up the phone.
- And if a reporter does bite, be prepared. Local reporters often have quick deadlines. Prepare your local spokespeople and coordinate availability for interviews in advance, and also have relevant facts and figures ready to be shared.
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