Working with Your Local Newspaper

According to the Nebraska Press Association, small-town daily and weekly newspapers continue to have extremely high readership. That may not surprise people who live in rural communities or expatriates who continue to subscribe in order to keep up with local news from back home. This means that your local newspaper is one of your most important outlets for stories about your affiliated fund.

Your relationship with your local newspaper should reciprocal. It is a mistake to think that your paper owes you “free publicity” for everything—every time you ask for it. Your job is to make your editor’s job easy—by providing timely information that the readers will want to know, and by submitting that information with clarity and accuracy.

By following the tips below, you’re more likely to get the coverage you desire from your local newspaper:

  1. Develop a relationship with your editor and/or reporter.
    Meet with them to explain your work and your vision for the community. Provide them some basic background material in the form of a fact sheet. Ask for their advice and guidance for submitting stories.
  1. Follow through with your editor/reporter.
    If you say you will provide a story or a picture, do so! Make sure that they have your complete contact information. If they request more information on a subject, offer to provide it as soon as possible.
  1. Respect deadlines and space requirements.
    Know when they must have the copy and how many words they are expecting. Local newspapers operate on tight schedules.
  1. Find out how they want you to provide materials.
    They may want your copy within the body of an email rather than as an attachment. Don’t expect them to do the typing or write the story unless they offer.
  1. Provide photos as electronic files.
    Include a caption that identifies subjects with names spelled correctly. Describe what people are doing in the picture and include the date.
  1. Stories should be time relevant.
    Don’t submit a story that is quite dated. Try to connect your story to the season, a local event, or some other topic that is timely in your community.
  2. Finally, make it perfect.
    Write your news release or story, then rewrite it and refine it. Have others check for grammar and typos.

Here is some additional sage advice from Kent Warneke, editor of the Norfolk Daily News.