Reaching the Media: Smart Tactics for Getting Your Project Into the News

How to pitch local news media

One way to get your project some attention beyond the scope of your social network is to get some local press.

We live in a world of global media, though, so local press can mean a few things.

  1. It can literally mean "local media" — the newspaper, radio, and television stations in your hometown.
  2. It can mean your online community — not geographically local, but united by a particular interest or topic.
  3. It can mean the place where your project is centered — but not necessarily where YOU live.

If you're fundraising for a documentary film about the ecological and socio-political history of a particular river delta and you live in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles media probably isn't interested. But blogs about river ecology and economy would be, as would the local media in the region you're profiling.

Here are a few steps to get you started in identifying and pitching press to get your project additional coverage — that will hopefully bring it additional funding.

  1. Identify what "local" means for your project. Find out where your project has local interest: either in an online community, locally within your own town or city, or in another geographical location where your project is focused.
  2. Put together a pitch. Don't just stick to the old-school press release format. Make sure your project has a landing page that provides more information and an online destination (this could be your IndieGoGo project page, but might also be an additional website), and be sure to include links to that page. Put together some hi-resolution images to send. And finally, yes, write a press release. These three elements should be included in your pitch.
  3. Put together a media list. Who are the influencers and tastemaskers in your locality? Bloggers? Local television stations? Radio personalities? Maybe you're not just pitching media, but like-minded organizations who would be interested in including your project information in their future emails and press releases. Think outside the box. Think big. Build your list to be bigger than you actually need it. Don't edit it thinking, "Well, they wouldn't be interested." Be inclusive — but make sure everyone on your list is relevant.
  4. Distribute your pitch to the media list. Don't send a blanket email to everyone on your list. Pick the top 20 or 30 leads you have and write a personal note with your links and attachments. Be conversational in tone and be sure to tell them why you thought they could use the information. For instance, "I noticed you've written about similar scams on your blog about consumer protection, and our documentary seeks to expose…"
  5. Don't just wait around — follow up, update, be active. Don't use the "spray and pray" method, but try not to be too spammy, either. You don't want to badger journalists. But make sure your sites are updates with relevant information. Perhaps locate the people you pitched on Twitter and follow them — join in their conversations. And within a few weeks if you haven't heard anything, follow up by sending a relevant update. "Hi — I sent you some information about my project on September 20th, and since then we've had over 500 supporters — including anonymous donors — rally to protect this rare species of tropical penguin in your area."
  6. Repeat. Are you sure you hit ALL your "local" lists? Keep thinking outside the box to identify additional localities where your project would be of interest. Then continue with step 2.

Remember: all of this does take some time, but one news story on a local TV station, or a post on an influential blog can mean a difference of thousands of dollars.

Questions about pitching and list-building? Ask them in the comments below! We're happy to help you brainstorm good pitches for your individual projects.

Image courtesy Flickr user Roadsidepictures