American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

How to Generate Local Media Coverage

Local television stations and talk radio shows, hometown newspapers and magazines, and locally-oriented blogs are all looking for the same thing, local content. Reporters look for stories that are newsworthy or entertaining, especially ones with unique angles, new ideas, showcase statistics and trends. The fact that public health directly affects the community creates a natural news hook. Additionally, communication disorders carry human-interest angles that are ready-made for local news placements.

If you have useful information or a local angle on a national story, especially with a human- interest element, you might just become the talk of your town. Here are tips you can follow to get noticed by your local media:

Develop a list of media outlets that cover your community. To find names and contacts for local media outlets, you can make a phone call to the media outlet and ask for the assignment desk or the health reporter, or consult their web page.

Get to know your local media. Before contacting the reporter, read/watch their stories, follow them on Twitter, and read their blogs to get an idea if your information is appropriate for their beat.

Pitch yourself and your story ideas to your media. Try a short email or phone call to introduce yourself. Make sure your communication is brief and succinct while still getting your message across. If possible, arrange a short meeting with the reporter and provide collateral materials about the professions and your services. If you are able to communicate with the reporter, find out if they have an editorial calendar and if you can get on it for such instances as May is Better Hearing and Speech Month and "Back To School" stories.

Help localize stories about public health. Make yourself, or a member of the community served by your practice, available as an expert on communication health issues. For example, when news about stuttering and the King's Speech movie broke, ASHA sent out an advisory offering former ASHA President Dr. Tommie Robinson as an expert to speak to the media.

Sell your story. Focus on topics that tug at emotions to bring your story or issue to life. Make the reporter want to learn or read more. When calling or writing your press release, don't for instance, say it's just a patient, but convey it's a mom of three, someone's devoted grandfather, tween football player, lifelong resident of the town, etc.

Watch out for these pitfalls. If the reporter responds to your request, don't forget to follow-up. If you don't have the information, explain that you will get it. In addition, when reaching out to the media, be careful not to bombard them with unnecessary press releases or media calls. Reporters also are not interested in yesterday's news; items that are of interest only internally to your organization, or routine events. Do not send reporters advertisements masquerading as an informative article. They are keenly aware of promotional material or advertisements purporting to be real news.

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