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|How many local placements did your PR firm get you last month? How many cities and/or states covered your offerings?|
Many consumers and small business owners don't trust large national brands. They prefer to do business with local companies.
As a result, being viewed as a trusted partner with a local feel has become critically important to large national companies, and, indeed, it's become a top business priority for many Walker Sands clients.
PR is critically important to building a local presence. For national firms, getting localized PR is the linchpin to building awareness and trust at the local level.
In this blog post, I'll offer a few tips on how to get local PR if you work at a national firm, but first let's take a look at an example case in which a national firm got some great local PR results.
Last month, we helped a Walker Sands PR client based in San Francisco to get 50 media placements in 26 states, despite their only having a physical presence in California.
By connecting with small business owners on a local market level, our client has managed to maintain a steady flow of business from the entire country, without incurring the overhead of having to open local offices.
In this case, the key was mining the national company's data to discover local trends. The data they acquire as part of their day-to-day business operations is rich with information on national and local business health. It's a simple task to slice and dice the data to generate data-driven local PR pitches that are very compelling to local journalists.
Here are a few other useful tactics for getting local PR:
Tap Into Local Customers as Media Sources. It's all about having local sources. For example, a company based in New York can easily get a placement in, say, the Atlanta Journal Constitution as long as they have a local Atlanta customer who is willing to talk to the media.
Leverage Other Local Connections. What other connections do you have locally? Does your national company work with local value-added resellers, suppliers or consultants? If so, reach out to them and build a local PR campaign around their activities. The local publicity you will generate is win-win for you and your partners.
Avoid Pitches That Don't Convey Local Awareness and Empathy. The worst offense in pitching a local journalist is to send them a pitch that appears as if you don’t really know much about their coverage area. Taking a generic pitch and making only a minor tweak to it, such as changing the word "Houston" to "Newark", gets a C grade, and won't pass muster with most local journalists. Although it takes more effort, your pitches will do best if you can truly customize them to an individual local journalist and reference current events in their city in a relevant fashion that supports your pitch.
Invest In The Community. What's your budget for building a local presence? Your marketing plan should include a list of communities in which you want to build brand awareness and strengthen your local presence. Investment dollars should then be allocated to each community and those dollars should be used to do things like sponsor local seminars or contests. (If the market is important to you, you might even want to open a small, one-person, local office, which can be done for as little as $75,000 per year.) Those local investment programs, and the local activities and local sponsorships they support, should then be fed to your PR firm. The PR firm can then use those events as an input to getting local media placements.
Build a Local Presence On Your Website(s) Suppose you engage Walker Sands to help you get local PR placements. We create some great localized PR pitches and send them out to editors, producers and journalists across the country. The recipients then go to your website and look for even the smallest mention of their city, but they find nothing. Big mistake! Prior to launching a localized PR campaign, have a firm like Walker Sands build out the localized content on your site. Localized web content and localized PR pitches together are an unstoppable combination that will get you the local results you desire.
The bottomline on pitching locally is that it's something that needs to be approached strategically and systematically.
When it comes to getting local PR placements, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
Take some time to think through your local PR strategy and work with a firm that knows how to get local PR placements.