Be a star: Get ink in your local newspaper

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Q. I've noticed that my local newspaper often reports on businesses in my community, but my company never seems to get any ink. How can I attract the attention of my local media?
A. At a time when cases of Medicare fraud are being reported nationwide, it's more important than ever to get the word out about the positive impact the HME industry is having in local communities.
The first step to gaining media coverage in any publication is to be a regular reader of that publication. Pay attention to the stories they cover and which reporters handle them. Suggesting a touching human interest story to a magazine that only handles business news won't get you very far.
Next, determine what you want the publication to cover and approach them. Don't just say, "Why don't you ever cover my company?" Pitch an actual story idea, saying "I read the article you wrote about ..." and "I have a great local interest story for you about ..." Simply call the reporter or editor or write a brief and compelling letter or e-mail describing your story idea.
Lastly, deliver what you've offered. Give the reporter access to key individuals to interview. Provide photographs whenever possible. Invite them to see your facility and equipment. Consider the following potential story ideas:
n Partner up with a local sleep lab to pitch a story about sleep apnea.
n Approach your local newspaper about covering a patient making a great accomplishment toward independence (with his or her permission, of course).
n Ask a local reporter to ride with your driver for a few hours to see firsthand how your company benefits the community.
Reporters rely heavily on good, knowledgeable sources who know the industries and issues they cover. Volunteer for the job and do it well, and you're likely to find a spot on that reporter's speed dial.

Jennifer Keirn is the director of marketing communications for Roscoe Medical. Reach her at (440) 572-1962 or