How to get editorial coverage by connecting to a national event

Reporters and editors are always looking to expand or localize a national story. Knowing how to leverage this interest can lead to additional media exposure.

So what’s the secret to doing it right? Here are a couple of tips:

  • Timing. While the story is breaking, the only editorial interest is in how the details are unfolding. On subsequent days, when the details are all covered, editorial directors will be interested in finer points, sidebars and local angles. Unless you have an expert on topics being covered immediately (such as national security), wait until day two to offer this information.
  • Sensitivity. The tie-in to the story may make sense to you, but ask yourself if will it make sense the the victims of the story. Unless the answer is yes, take a pass.
  • Value. Your local angle to a national story must add value for both the reader and the editor. Adding value can come in the form of more background on the subject, additional applications for a product or service, etc. For the reader, it may generate the response, “I had no idea!”

When piggybacking on a national story, beware of tasteless missteps that can generate negative coverage. For example:

  • Fashion designer Kenneth Cole took a lot of heat about an insensitive tweet he put out after hearing about the possibility of boots on the ground in Syria: “Let’s not forget about sandals, pumps and loafers #Footwear.”
  • A Wisconsin golf course had to apologize following a backlash over its advertising of nine holes of golf for $9.11 on the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
  • Online recipe platform Epicurious came under fire when it tweeted, “In honor of Boston and New England, may we suggest: whole-grain cranberry scones,” following the Boston Marathon bombing.
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