Local PR is a strange beast. And I would guess the media in Cheshire and Manchester are no different from elsewhere in the UK. Trying to win coverage in the local press (radio or TV) using traditional media relations methods requires a little more creativity than average.
No point sending an editor a descriptive piece about your client’s range of products or services. You’ll need real ‘human interest’ stories… you know the sort of thing: employee raises £X million for charity; ‘green’ credentials of X company demonstrated in marathon tree-planting exercise; employees decide to marry after 40 years working together in the factory etc etc.
The problem is, of course, that these stories don’t come along every day of the week. So that’s where the PR man’s black art of inventing hooks and angles comes in handy. With certain clients, however, this can be like getting the proverbial blood from a stone. A lot of this stems from a reluctance to air one’s dirty linen in public. Will it make us look stupid /unprofessional/ etc the client asks??? What’s the point of all this anyway, they may say?
The answer is that local PR stories must be part of a company’s wider PR strategy. To give an example: sponsoring a Porsche driver who’s racing at a local circuit – especially if the driver happens to work for your company – would fit neatly with an outfit that wanted to project a young, progressive and (possibly) technically-advanced image.
In many ways, local PR is more challenging than straightforward media relations where the trade press will publish almost anything providing it’s relevant to that sector or industry. Likewise with online PR publishers – except online coverage also comes with valuable links back to your website!
Of course, local PR clients always ask the same question when you first start talking turkey: do you have good connections with local editors? It may help to a small extent but, in general, you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. In other words, if the story is weak, there’s no point souring a perfectly good working relationship.
Mike Beeson has added a new page on local PR to the ‘PR & media relations’ page of Buzzwords’ website.