On March 21st, WMPRSA members gathered to learn about how to connect with niche West Michigan publications. The panelists included Lauren Carlson, Managing Editor at Rapid Growth; Angie Morales, Executive Director at La Mejor; George Wietor, New Media Planner at The Rapidian and Rick Pulliam, Editorial Assistant to the Editor at The Grand Rapids Times. Each panelist contributed valuable information detailing ways in which PR professionals can better work with local resources and contribute to community news.
The Story of Community
Positive, community-based coverage is key. Traditional media outlets can become depressing with articles covering topics that spark controversy and frustration. That’s why these share reliable local news that reflects a positive community-based message. Each publication brings a different story to the West Michigan area, but each contribute to the community as a whole.
The Rapidian elevates the voices of local individuals and nonprofits, and individuals can publish articles themselves. Rapid Growth Media provides longer, in depth pieces that cover the heart of a topic or trend. They focus their stories on real change makers in the community and serve a “loyal, diverse” audience. Similarly, The Grand Rapids Times depicts culture and diversity in their stories as the only black publication in the area. La Mejor is a publication aimed for sharing good news in Michigan’s Hispanic community.
The panelists agree that consumer trust has dwindled surrounding fake news accusations in traditional media. However, they argue that their publications provide true and accurate information that their audiences can rely on. They each cover real news, reaching out to different markets and creating a positive narrative for the community.
Mutually Beneficial Relationships
Working with niche publications and citizen journalists is similar to corresponding with traditional media. So, how do these local publications want to be reached? The phrase “mutually beneficial” was thrown around numerous times during this event, proving that these panelists want to build relationships with PR professionals and create thriving partnerships. Ultimately, they wish local professionals knew more about each of their publications and what they offer the community.
When asked what they can provide to public relations professionals, each speaker agreed that their niche provides a deeper story of community, proving them more impact than their traditional media competitors.
Hitting the Right Pitch
Some pitching pet peeves were uncovered when asked what they wish PR professionals knew. They’ll accept a pitch or press release if it aligns with stories they’d typically share and also make it easy for the journalist. Some general tips are:
· Send a fully formed pitch, but customize it to the publication you’re sending it to.
· Don’t attach a press release to an email, actually put it in the body so it’s easily accessible.
· Get to know the journalist. Send them an email and ask what they like to cover.
Recap by Courtney Fogle: Courtney Fogle is a senior studying Advertising and Public Relations at Grand Valley State University. She’s an active member of GV PRSSA and hosts their podcast, PR Hangover. In her spare time you can find her prepping for her future career in entertainment PR as the Public Relations Intern at River City Studios.