Hyperlocal News: Same Stories, New Perspectives
This guest post is by Sonal Moraes, senior account coordinator at Cision.
Back in March Cision sponsored the Publicity Club of Chicago‘s Luncheon at Maggiano’s. The theme of the day was Hyperlocal: The Brave New News World, where panelists from various community news outlets expressed the ups and downs of working with the PR community. Moderator Thom Clark, president of the Community Media Workshop led a riveting discussion of this media facet with panelists including Peter Kendall of the Chicago Tribune, John Lampinen of the Daily Herald, Ronald Roenigk of Insider Publications, Marcia Sagendorph of Patch and Shamus Toomey of DNAinfo.com.
For those who are unaware, Hyperlocal is just a fancy new term used to refer to suburban/community outlets. The goal in using this new term is to help shift people from thinking about local stories and to think more about the neighborhoods. Our esteemed panelists discussed how digital media has affected their work and their pet peeves when it comes to PR pitches. Check out our takeaways below for some insight on the hyperlocal world:
Digital Media – The digital media revolution hit the print industry hard, but hyperlocal papers are finding that they are recovering. Part of the reason for this is their inclusion of social media. There still is a percentage of people who rely on their community paper, so this is nonetheless a valuable media to pitch. Patch, for instance, uses social media to help add quality reader communication to their content. The Tribune relies on social media for spreading their messages and stories, and DNAinfo.com uses digital media to help break their story first. What’s pretty cool is that reporters look at citizen bloggers to find content, in addition to tweets and social posts. The downfall here is that social media can oftentimes provide inaccurate information – so it’s always used with care and caution for hyperlocal news.
Pitching Pet Peeves for Hyperlocal Contacts:
- These journalists get at least 100 pitches a day, so when the audience is completely off they get annoyed. It’s all about the reader – know who the reader is and make sure it fits the publication; it’s not just what they write about.
- Being too pushy or overbearing is not okay. Going to the writer in person (yes, that has happened for these panelists) is going too far. Let your writing shine on its own.
- Know the correct location for your market to reach – as the term blatantly states, hyperlocal news is hyperlocal – these pubs are only interested in their own community.
- Some hyperlocal outlets, like Patch, let you skip the step of pitching to a contact and instead publish through an entry form. It’s there for a reason: to make use of it.
- Saying “Local” in the headline of your release is not necessary, clearly if you are contacting a local outlet the story is going to be local. Try including the name of the city instead if you find it necessary.
- Get the name of the reporter right – plain and simple.
The general consensus among our panelists was that the best way to reach these outlets is by phone. These reporters are open to pitches so give them a ring! They want to hear new stories and if it’s specific to the neighborhood, it’s fair game. With most hyperlocal outlets the stories may not be the most exciting of news, but people like to know what’s happening in their community and look forward to these reads. Something to also remember and keep in your back pocket is that charity news is great for hyperlocal.
Seize the opportunity of hyperlocal news to not only show, but tell!
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