Does Your Local Media Know About You? Do You Know About Your Local Media?

As you finish your book (whether your first or your “next”), you will be thinking about how to let people know about it. There are many things authors are advised to do.

One of those things is to communicate with the media, and today I’m referring to your local hometown media.

Can’t think offhand what local media you have? Then start by finding out. If your book isn’t out yet, then start reading or listening to the media outlets that cover your hometown. Pay attention to when they issue news. Is it daily, hourly – weekly? Who are the people writing about local news?

Most communities are served by some kind of local news outlets, and while newspapers are continuing to decline, many communities still have one, in print and online. Local newspapers are interested in differentiating themselves from national news sites and big city TV news stations by covering “hyperlocal” news – and that’s where authors come in. Your local newspaper is often the place where you’ll find stories to learn about local fundraising events to help pay for a new playground, high school sports, why the bridge over Walnut Street is out, or the shouting match that broke out at the last village trustees meeting.

It’s also a great place to get some coverage for you, a local author, who has written a book. Even better if the book ties in some way to your region.

So along with other publicity, you need to let your local media know.

This is what Buoyancy PR specializes in doing, but here are a few tips for you on your own.

You need to write something to send the media, and if you don’t know how to write an actual news release, then write a short email but you need to keep it short and sweet.

And remember those 5 Ws and an H we’ve talked about here before – the who, what, when, where, how and why of the news item.  All of that might fit into two or three sentences about you and your books. [It’s good to also include one quote from someone else praising the book. But remember you aren’t writing advertising copy.]

For today, let’s start with you doing an author event. Sometimes it’s easier to get some coverage if you are having an event, whether virtual or in person. So once again, in addition to including the 5 Ws and H about you and the book, be extra sure you’ve included the Who-What-When-Where details about your event. What the event is, Who is hosting it and Who should attend, When it is –include the date, the day of the week, and the time with time zone. Where — the location and that location address. How much cost if there is one, How to get tickets, How to get more information –the website and a phone number. It’s fine to even just list all of those details out in a list.

Be sure you do this a few weeks before the event.

And then you need to find out where to send the info. Search the news outlet website and you should be able to find something that says, “Send us news.” Don’t use the Contact form that’s going to the subscription or advertising department.

If you can’t figure it out, call them. Just ask where to send local news items. Don’t try to tell the person on the phone all about you, your book and event.

One final note for now.

Depending on who you listen to nowadays to get your news or commentary on things going on in the world, you might be making some assumptions about these people that produce news and might have kind of a low opinion of them.

Be careful with this. They don’t have to write a story about you, so be respectful. In most communities, they are likely doing the very best they can with very few resources.

According to a 2020 report from the Pew Research Center, newsroom staffing has been cut in half since 2008, and those figures are pre-pandemic. Ever worked in a department that was short-handed, and especially, short-handed due to layoffs with the future unknown? It’s a tough environment.  

Overall, news media jobs are only down 23%, Pew notes, because some new digital news organizations are creating new jobs. Some of those new outlets are also doing local news, but again, could be volunteers or at best are likely in start-up mode and equally short-staffed.

There’s a lot more to know about working with the news media, and let me know if we can help in any way, but if nothing else for now, start paying attention to what news outlets are serving your hometown and get to know them.

Originally sent as an email to the Buoyancy community on April 23, 2021.
Joni Sullivan Baker
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