DIYPR Part Two – Try Your Hand at Journalism

Photo Credit: Matt Callow

Photo Credit: Matt Callow

Welcome to Part Two of the DIYPR series. In Part One, we discussed a key resource to any business owner or company representative. Now that you’ve all joined HARO (ahem, you can do so here if you haven’t already) you’re ready for the next level of self promotion, whether it be for your personal business, your design firm or perhaps you were suddenly bestowed with the responsibility to “get the word out” about your company. In addition to myriad social media options, there are many ways to score traditional media hits for your company.

To provide an example – in our local Phoenix market, The Arizona Republic asks citizen reporters to submit content in what it calls “News By You.” It’s typically a section best suited for news that is very community-centric, and just like it sounds, invites community representatives to share news stories written in the same manner as those generated by the publication.

For those who are still in the habit of receiving the local newspaper every morning, you may have noticed it getting thinner and thinner throughout the recession, and it hasn’t just affected the little guys – the big guys are feeling it, too. Unfortunately, many papers have been forced to lay off reporters as advertising dollars diminished. It’s the same story in every city, which is why the “News By You” or “Citizen Reporter” (or whatever it may be called in your city) is a win-win option for both your company and the paper.

So what types of announcements qualify for community columns such as these? Really, anything that is of significance to your surrounding community, but many of the following are good options:

  • New hire announcements (if possible, include a head shot)
  • Company philanthropy initiatives
  • Any partnerships or programs you’ve initiated with a local high school, hospital or other community entity (include photos from any public meetings or events with the organization)
  • Expert tips on a relevant, top-of-mind topic (such as area insights on area foreclosures, etc.)
  • Summary of a recent community event sponsored by your organization (be sure to offer photos from the event)

Also keep in mind that anything you write for your own blog, e-newsletter, etc. may be useful for your local weekly/monthly publication. Just be sure that the focus of the article is designed to educate/inform rather than come off sounding “salesy.” Write in a tone that is unbiased. It should read as if it could have been written by a journalist. Click here to see a good example.

So do yourself a favor, and take a moment to research the local publications around you. Initiate a relationship with your local editors, and be sure to keep this rule in mind: is this news that would be of legitimate value to a community reader? If in doubt, pitch a reporter/editor first with a simple email to gauge their interest in the story you have to offer. It can’t hurt, right?

Are any of you already engaged with local media through practices such as those mentioned above? If so, we want to hear about what’s worked and what hasn’t. And if you have any questions, feel free to leave those in the comments as well.

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