Become a comms hero by using what already exists at media outlets

I was watching a news story the other day on the local ABC-TV affiliate where I live and noticed they have a feature called “Everyday Heroes.” It highlights someone in the community who does great things for others with not much fanfare. I later realized that what I did next would make a good lesson in media pitching.

At the end of the segment, the announcer said the station is always on the lookout for nominations of other Everyday Heroes. The announcer directed viewers to the station’s web site for information on how to submit the name of someone for the feature.

I had previously served on the board of the Senior Citizens Council of Clackamas County for about eight years and am familiar with the outstanding work of its executive director, who is planning to retire at the end of this year. The nonprofit, grassroots Council literally saves the lives and finances of local senior citizens who are being abused.

“Hmmmm…,” I thought. “She would make an excellent candidate for the Everyday Heroes segment.”

I went to the station’s web site and looked at the nomination instructions. All I had to do was send in an email. That seemed easy enough, so I did. I wrote about the organization and the executive director, explaining all the good the Council accomplishes for people who can’t defend themselves.

Within an hour or so, the station responded and said it would feature the executive director in its next Everyday Heroes segment. Score!

The interview took place a few days later at the Council’s office. The incredible story aired later that week. Click here to view it.

The lesson here is: study your target media and determine how you can fit your organization into the media’s existing features. I didn’t have to create something new to obtain this hit. I simply figured out how to utilize what already existed.

Does your local news media outlet have a feature that would be appropriate to highlight your client, company, agency or organization? Figure out how the outlet finds the subjects for its feature and put together a brief but compelling nomination or news release. The feature might be a “People on the Move” column, a columnist who writes human interest stories, a spotlight on new businesses or a hundred other possibilities.

Taking note of what already exists at a media outlet and then making a successful pitch can make you a hero to your client!

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