Look Beyond Your Own Backyards, Economic Developers

Communities hard-hit by the recession – and let’s face it, who isn’t? – are using every arrow in the quiver to create jobs and increase tax revenue.  And one of the most cost-effective of those arrows is a strategic media relations campaign, whether it’s executed in-house or using an agency.  But you’d be surprised how many media relations programs deployed by economic development corporations  focus only on the media within their communities – “backyard coverage” – not on national and international business outlets.

Memo to economic development corporations (EDC’s):  if executives are reading your hometown paper, they’re already interested in your community.  And you need ‘new blood’ to drive new tax revenue – so it’s time to look beyond your own backyard.  National media relations can help you reach the Fortune 500 decision-makers who haven’t discovered you yet.

Five Tips for Pitching National Media Coverage of Local Communities

  • Want to be in the news?  Be newsworthy!  OK, it may sound obvious, but all too often EDC’s use their sales pitch as a news story.  The two are certainly similar – but not the same.  Your media relations initiative should be anchored to an important event, transaction, or even a proprietary survey – something with a ‘news hook.’  Whatever that hook is, it needs to answer not just “why do I need to write this story” – but also “why do I need to write this story NOW.”


Humanize your storyStatistics are great – and expected – but to really sell a story on your community in the national press, you’ll need to be a master story teller. What gives your community its character, and what ‘real world’ story captures that character? What will make an outsider say, “I had no idea they do that THERE”?  Work with your public relations counsel to identify your best stories – and give reporters an “aha! moment” to remember.

Know who you’re pitching.  Your community’s story – and its news hook – will relate to certain national media outlet beats and industry blogs.  Your media list should be targeted enough that you don’t lose credibility by casting too wide a net.  Avoid winding up on the phone with reporters who feel like you’ve wasted their time.  Your agency can help you by using media tools like Vocus or Cision to carefully research who the best targets are for you.

Engage in social media.  A strategic B2B social media campaign is a great way to catch the eye of reporters.  And it’s a twofer:  in addition to promoting your community to reporters, an engaging online presence can also directly grab the attention of investment influencers all over the world.  Social media should be included in just about any B2B public relations community campaign, these days – so be sure your PR firm is including it in your planning for next year.

Be patient – but persistent.  Rarely does a batter hit a homerun on the first pitch, and strategic media relations  is no different.  As you perform outreach to national reporters, remember that it takes time to build a presence and become known.  You’ll need to start small, then as you become a resource by consistently providing compelling interviews and information, you’ll see results in the long run.

How are you raising awareness of your community beyond your own backyard?

(Photo by gospelszene)


To contact Margy Sweeney:

Phone: 312-252-7314
Email: margy@blisspr.com
Twitter: @margysweeney
LinkedIn: Margy Sweeney