One of the quickest and most efficient ways to make your challenge known around your community is to get it covered by local news media outlets, whether they’re on television or just strictly online. Since more and more people are switching to going online to read news stories and updates, more and more news outlets are shifting their news reporting and marketing efforts online too. While it is outstanding to be covered on television, you can’t actually share the news until that station then uploads the video and story to their online website and social media. Many of the people that still actually watch the news are older and not necessarily in your target group of people that you want to see the story. You will therefore reach most of your target group online rather than on television. News stories have the highest chances of being shared, and all BIG stories that go viral started out as just small stories that grew larger due to people constantly sharing it online via social media.

These are all things to think about regarding contacting media outlets to cover your challenge:

No media outlet is “too small” – Don’t ever avoid contacting a website, blog, or news station because you think it is just too small to really matter. A bigger media outlet might occasionally check that site to see if there are any interesting stories to also cover. If a blogger or small site is wanting some information for a story, give them what they want because you don’t know what that small story might eventually develop into.

Are some stations more prone to covering stories like yours? – If your restaurant is located in a bigger city with multiple news stations, there is probably one or two that are more likely to cover your story than the others. Make sure to contact the stations that focus more on local news rather than national and global stories. Does a particular station have a special segment that fits your story? If so, make sure to contact those stations, and also make sure to contact the right people. Many times, stories just don’t get picked up because they were sent to the wrong people, without being forwarded, and not the ones that would actually cover that type of story.

It has to be newsworthy – News media outlets cover stories that they think their listeners, followers, and viewers will like and want to hear about. They do this because they know people that don’t find their stories interesting will go elsewhere. If your challenge is not outrageous, unique, and interesting, nobody is going to cover your challenge, so remember that when you are creating it. Make it unlike anything else around!!

Sometimes its all about timing – The best time to contact the local media around you is when there are no significant events coming up within the next few days. If you have ever read an online food challenge article and seen “Slow news day?” as one of the comments, YES it probably was a slower news day. News outlets have to report something, and if there is not a ton of options to choose from, your food challenge will be able to make it closer to the top of that list. So before you click the “send” button on that email or post, think about what events are coming up in the community over the next few days. If you can’t think of anything, send it!!

Having a video makes a big difference – You have a much higher chance of getting your food challenge covered if there is a video that can be associated with the story. News stations and blogs like videos because they provide great online content that their readers can view along with reading the story and seeing photos. News outlets also know that videos make the story more “share-able” too. News stations are trying to do the same thing as you and get their stories viewed more often which is why you want to be covered by them. This is another reason you should make an advertisement video for your challenge, particularly a shorter one.

It may require multiple attempts – Just because a news media outlet doesn’t respond the first time, that does not mean that it will never happen. More important things may have been higher up on the list, or maybe the email got caught up in a spam filter. Remember that you are not the only person trying to get your story covered. If your first attempt doesn’t succeed, try again later, but not within the same week. There is a fine line between constant contact and being completely annoying. If the first few attempts don’t work, then your challenge is probably not newsworthy enough yet and you also need to re-evaluate your angle of approach.

Sometimes a 3rd party works better – Sometimes news media outlets are more inclined to cover a story if they hear about it from a 3rd party rather from the restaurant itself. Have a PR firm or someone else contact the station if your first few attempts don’t work. They might also use a different approach that works better.

Contacting the news and other outlets is not nearly as tough as it may sound. If you are going to contact the news though, be aware that they just might cover it, so be ready to promote the story to all of your fans and followers and do your best to get them to share the story. You can even offer the possibility of free stuff to your fans that ‘like’ and ‘share’ the article. Give away a free entree or gift card to a certain number of people based on how many ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ the post gets. Have some fun with it by offering prizes, and your fans will be more willing to support you and your marketing efforts. Remember that the internet can be funny, and you just never know when an article or post will get a lot of shares, so keep trying and make sure to be ready to capitalize on the situation if it does. You may also want to search for and check out previous stories that have been done on challenges around you. What special qualities made those challenges newsworthy? Figure that out and then use that information to change up your “sales pitch” in the emails you are sending in the future.

Thanks for reading why you should contact free local news media outlets to market your food challenge!!

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