Local media isn’t what it used to be, but it’s still a valuable place to share your club information to build interest in your club.
If you have news about local people winning awards or using their Toastmasters skills to help community organizations, write a news release. Then share the information with local newspapers, radio stations, bloggers, online news websites, and television stations. They may not be able to always run a story, but they most likely always want to hear your news tip and decide for themselves.
There are few reporters covering events in Ontario cities now compared to a decade ago –– even in larger cities. That means you have to work ahead to make your news release of interest to them. Start with a template from www.toastmasters.org. Search for “news release,” and you will see five to choose from.
In my experience as a newspaper reporter and editor, it’s always best to get to know your local reporters and editors. Not to fill their email inboxes with news releases every week, but instead to share news in general that you hear around town. Build trust with them by showing you care about helping them in their job of finding and sharing interesting news in town. Read or listen to the news they report.
That said, newspaper editors and reporters are wise to your end game. They’re used to being used. Only give them information about your club that will be of interest to their audience. Don’t demand or guilt them into covering your event. That only guarantees they never will.
Always pitch them something with a strong local “hook,” of interest to their audience. Read or listen to what they share and offer similar news. Think of club members doing things for other local people and organizations. Tips to help people deal with life challenges, like giving a toast at their daughter’s wedding. Or perhaps a Toastmaster offering free guidance to a teenager giving a valedictory speech at a local high school.
News organizations often default to a general email address to manage news release submissions. Look for a “news tips” or “newsroom” email address, usually at the bottom of the home page. Copy and paste your news release into the body of the email. Don’t send it as an attachment because corporate anti-virus filters may automatically dump them into a junk folder abyss.
If you can, avoid sending your news tip or news release to a generic media email address. Send it to the email of a person you have a relationship with and will likely reply to you.
Some news organizations offer a streamlined way of collecting news releases. They ask you to register as a member of their website, then allow you to copy your news release into a submission window and attach images and video links. Click submit, and they promise an editor will look over your submission.
Metroland Newspapers such as the Mississauga News or Cambridge Times offer direct submission options. Find your local Metroland newspapers and websites here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metroland_Media_Group
“Sign in” at the top right of the home page, enter your email and a password to get an account. Then scroll to the bottom of the page to find the “submit content” link. Click on it and follow the directions. You can also add your club meetings to the online events calendar at the events link.
Best Value Media distributes glossy, monthly neighbourhood magazines in cities and towns across southern Ontario. Click on www.bestversionmedia.com/submit-content and follow the directions to submit your news release to the appropriate magazine.
Village Media operates local news websites across Ontario. Submit news here: www.villagemedia.ca/contact
Find your local news organizations by Googling your hometown name and words like “newspapers” or “news media.” Along with sharing your news release with local media, post it on your club website and use it as content in social media posts. Build your custom local media contact list and use it with diligence and care.
Kevin Swayze was a newspaper reporter, editor and photographer for 30 years. He’s now a communications consultant and business communications professor at Conestoga College. He’s president of Cambridge Toastmasters, in Cambridge ON.
Created by Kevin Swayze Cambridge Toastmasters President 2021 – 2022