Here’s one of the most effective ways to get noticed by local media and generate positive press coverage: Take a reporter out to lunch. That’s right. Simple as that. Chances are in your town, you have newspaper, radio, or TV reporters who cover the subject you’re involved in. If you’re a pastor or ministry leader, someone’s covering the religious beat. If you’re a musician, writer, or artist, some reporter is covering the culture, media, or entertainment beat. There’s business and sports sections in every local paper. Whatever you do for a living, chances are, the local news outlets are covering it. We spend endless hours complaining that we don’t get coverage for our new album, movie, ministry outreach, product launch, or whatever – when the truth is, those reporters probably don’t know you exist.
A long-time pastor friend of mine in a major city did something remarkable early in his career. When he first started preaching, he invited the religion reporter from the local paper out to lunch. At the lunch the pastor told the reporter: “I know you have to cover a lot of issues on the religion pages. That’s a big job. So if you ever need any help, just let me know and I’ll make my staff available to you for research, interviews, whatever. No charge. I’d just like to help.”
Guess what? Over the next 20 years, guess who’s been the most interviewed leader in that city when it comes to religious stories? Just by offering to help the local media, the pastor has become iconic in the local press. Whatever happens, in the religious world, they call him first for a comment. The end result has literally been millions of dollars in free advertising and press coverage for that pastor and church in the local news.
Stop complaining about lack of press coverage and take a reporter to lunch. No agenda. No strategy. Just get to know them. Find out what they’re interested in, and offer to help them should the need arise.
They’ll never write about you until they know you. And only you can make that happen.
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