What does the Local Reporter Want From You


In the last column, I looked at how to write a press release and email pitch to send to the local reporter. Today we focus on finding the actual story idea to be the focus of that pitch.



What do the media want?

It sounds simple, but local media want stories that interest local people and are focused on the local area. When I was a reporter in a small town, I was always surprised how many story pitches I got on topics that would never interest my readers and had nothing to do with my patch. This complaint is common among reporters.

The problem is that we all have our interests, and we assume that others will be equally as interested in our story idea. For example, if you are offering a new service or product, that will be huge for you, but may have minimal interest from the average reader of the local newspaper. That is unless it has a major news hook that would grab the reader’s attention.

A news hook is something that makes your idea stand out. It’s what will attract the eye of the reporter purely because he or she will know that it’s something that will interest the audience. In my experience, there are three major news hooks to focus on when pitching a story.

1.Topical issues

Commenting on issues that are already topical is the best way for franchisees to get regular coverage in the news pages of community media. Topical issues are something that most businesses overlook, but they’re so simple to find and so simple to sell because the reporter already knows they are of interest.


For example, if national real estate figures come out talking about how much house prices have risen over the last month or year, a real estate agent franchisee could comment on whether he or she has noticed a similar trend. Stories like this are gold for local media because they need local stories. By doing this, you are localising national stories. So, whenever a national story focused on your niche comes out, localise it for the community newspaper. It’s simple.

2.Out of the ordinary

The media love to hear about stories that are different in some way. There’s an old saying, “Dog bites man is not a story,” but “Man bites dog is.”

What could you do that’s out of the ordinary? It could be anything from staff dressing up weirdly on a particular day to raise funds for a worthy local cause to you making an outrageous prediction about something related to your niche. The possibilities are endless here. Just remember that if it’s different, it’s newsworthy.

3.Human Interest

These are interesting stories about local people. Do you have staff with an amazing background, someone who has been with the franchise for 50 years, or have you come to this role from something completely different? These are all potential stories in your local paper along with another bottomless pit of possibilities.

Hopefully, this gets you thinking and realising how many opportunities there are for you.