News & Views

Three Economic Development Tips for Pitching National Media, From a National Media Journalist

This fall, DCI hosted USA Today journalist Trevor Hughes at our third annual Marketing Summit, for a candid discussion about today’s media landscape with a group of economic development marketing directors from across the country.

Hughes is a national business journalist for USA Today who covers the Rocky Mountain West. He’ll be the first to tell you (and we at DCI agree!) that no, journalism is not dead, it’s just changing. Print media is becoming more selective, but digital media offers enormous capabilities for visual storytelling, reaching a wider audience, and real-time reporting. “People are always going to be interested in consuming news. They’re just consuming it differently,” says Hughes.

Trevor Hughes DCI Marketing Summit

USA Today journalist Trevor Hughes chats with the group at DCI’s Marketing Summit.

The national news media continues to be an important target for economic development marketing—DCI’s 2014 Winning Strategies study reports that articles in newspapers and magazines are the second-most influential sources of information for executive decision-makers in developing perceptions of a location’s business climate. And with social and digital media becoming ever more prevalent in the daily lives of millennials, it is a key influencer for talented young professionals as they consider relocating to a region, as well.

However, in the changing landscape of journalism, it is becoming more and more difficult for marketers to figure out how exactly to target reporters with their region’s stories. In a world where breaking news often trumps investigative journalism, and where every city is calling itself “the Silicon Valley of [insert region here]”, how does an economic development marketer make their region stand out to the media? These were the questions that our Marketing Summit group came to Trevor Hughes with, and in return, he offered a few questions that economic development marketers and PR professionals should consider when pitching the national media with a story from their city:

  1. Is Your Story Visual, Hands-On? “You want me to come check it out? Show me how we can make this appealing on video,” says Hughes. If you expect a reporter to come visit your region to see something, you should be able to provide a visual, hands-on experience.
  1. Is Your Story Unique—Really? Before you throw around the words “innovative” and “unique,” do your research. Is that true? Are other regions doing the same thing, or are you really a frontrunner? What exactly makes your city worth writing about over the thousands of others out there?
  1. Is Your Story Relevant? Sure, what’s happening might be groundbreaking for the local news, and might be really impactful for your region. But for the national outlets to cover it, it has to be relevant—is it related to a trend that’s happening nationally? Is it an indicator of some kind of larger paradigm shift? Why would someone across the country want to read about it?

Journalists receive hundreds, even thousands, of emails and pitches each day from PR people. Hughes encourages marketers to consider this, and consider the questions above in order to make the pitch you’re sending an impactful one.

Interested in attending next year’s Marketing Summit and engaging with economic development thought leaders and media gurus like Trevor Hughes? Contact Julie Curtin, DCI Executive Vice President/Partner at [email protected]

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