You could do a lot worse than going local

You've got the power

You could do a lot worse than going local

I discovered the power of PR at the age of 23. I didn’t really know what PR was back then. I was working as a reporter for a local newspaper and had got the cushy job of being the entertainments editor as well as a features writer. This meant I could travel our patch (which was huge!) and try stuff out for free. I then wrote about it in the paper.

One week, I went along to a faith healer operating in a draughty scout hut somewhere near Ruislip. I was accompanied by the paper’s photographer and another colleague who also fancied giving it a go.

Now, the faith healer didn’t much like us. You know what young people are like, exuberant, giggly, and in her mind, not serious enough for the business of faith healing. Anyway, we duly sat down and let her lay hands on us and wow…it was incredible. I felt this intense heat in the small of my back where it is prone to aching and I left the place, feeling even more sprightly than the average 23-year-old.

The photographer had an even more incredible experience as a neck pain he’d had from all that craning, completely disappeared.

The healer complained to the editor that we weren’t taking her seriously. Had I been her PR advisor I’d have told her that was a bad move because the idea is to foster relationships with journalists, not p*** them off. Even so, I wrote a piece about what had happened and the following week we got a phone call from a local – apparently, people were queueing around the block for a dose of this healing. They’d never seen anything like it and couldn’t cope with the demand.

The photographer went back and took a picture of the queue and we wrote another piece about how our story had sparked a stampede. The healer still wasn’t happy, but you can’t please everyone.

It showed me that PR is powerful. Getting your message into mainstream media is a fantastic way of reaching a big audience. Consider this, MailOnline has around 350 million unique monthly views per month. That’s the entire UK population X5! Whatever you might think of The Daily Mail, many of my clients see it as the holy grail and are cock-a-hoop when we get a hit.

If your story or business isn’t right for national newspapers, consider the locals. The fact that you live in the area that the paper covers gives you an advantage.

Café owner astonished at response to local newspaper review

The other day, I went to a new café in my area and the owner thanked me for a piece of PR. The review of his café in the Surbiton local paper The Good Life, had attracted 20 new customers. Alas, it was nothing to do with me and the guy was stunned by the response. He had no idea that PR could bring in new customers like that. Perhaps it’s something I should have mentioned when I went in for my cappuccino and overnight oats.

Bear in mind that local reporters are overworked and underpaid. A good way of getting coverage is to write your story for them (I do this for clients all the time), including a great headline. E-mail it to them with a short pitch and a link to some hi-resolution images. Local newspaper stories nearly always use images, so make sure you have some.

You could also invite local reporters to try out your products/services. That’s how Ruislip’s hands-on healer became a neighbourhood star. Why not you? Go for it!

Want any PR tips or feel ready to book a 1-2-1 PR strategy session with me? Drop me a line at sally@wowpr.co.uk  I get FANTASTIC results, and nothing brings me greater joy than helping my lovely client secure media coverage.