Local coverage for national efforts, podcast keys, more

Should I consider local papers in our national PR campaign?

Should I consider local papers in our national PR campaign?

"Local coverage can be a powerful complement to a national PR campaign," says Brian Agnes of Family Features Editorial Syndicate. "Community papers are often overlooked in their ability to impact brand messaging, but as a group, the 7,000 or so weeklies total about 50 million in circulation."

While many national and metro dailies have seen a decline in circulation, community newspapers are thriving, he notes, adding that The National Newspaper Association, along with the Missouri School of Journalism, recently conducted a survey in markets of less than 100,000 and found that non-daily newspaper readership actually doubled since 1965.

"You can execute a national PR campaign and get placement of your message in local papers by providing those editors with options to incorporate relevant local content," Agnes explains. "Whether it's communicating your support of a local charity, or information about a special event or celebrity media tour, editors will consider your material more favorably if there's something in it for their community."

Message placement

How can I tie my message into the expanding election news?

When Al Gore won an Oscar for his film An Inconvenient Truth, it became official that global warming and going "green" will be in the spotlight as the 2008 Presidential race heats up, says Rise Birnbaum of Zcommunications. Other issues that will take center stage include healthcare costs and coverage, education, trade policy, the loss of US jobs, immigration, and alternative energy.

"So, if you have messages to deliver on any of these hot topics nationally or on a grassroots basis, it's a perfect time to tie them to the election news as coverage expands, she notes.

Some effective ways to take those messages and deliver them to your target demographics include radio or audio news releases in English or Spanish, radio tours, SMTs, PSAs, podcasts, webcasts, in-store audio and video, airport video, fitness club video, and even mini DVDs blown into niche publications, she suggests.

"With new technology, the ways to deliver messages are countless, but if you're doing an initial video shoot or audio recording of a CEO, policy advisor, et al, consider expanding that first session so you can re-purpose the audio and video and amortize your initial investment," Birnbaum adds.


How can we make sure our podcast is successful?

With a podcast, everything boils down to garbage in; garbage out, advises Scott Bauman of Greenough Communications. "Too many clients and overzealous PR pros focus on the 'coolness' of podcasting and ignore the importance of an interesting story," he explains, adding that he also sees this "story void" in blogging and webcasting strategies.

Bauman feels PR can and should own podcasting within the broader communications mix because "we're experts at understanding publics, the stories that move them, and how, where, and why to engage them." Just because journalists are absent from most podcasts, he adds, doesn't mean they don't require filtering. That's where PR people come in.

You'll eventually need an audience acquisition plan for a podcast, but without the right content - filtered by PR experts to ensure it's a solid story - you're starting with garbage, Bauman warns. No creative planning will change that.

"We always ask about the story first," he says, "and we never assume a podcast is the right tool. We can only make that assessment after we hear what the client has to say."

Send your questions to toolbox@prweek.com. Please contact Irene Chang if you are interested in contributing to PR Toolbox or to suggest ideas for future columns.

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