When you think about local coverage of the most important news stories over the years, there tends to be one common thread: each is told in such a way that brings it right back to your hometown.
In the case of really big events, like 9/11 or Haiti, the media did this every day for weeks. Whether it was featuring stories of locals who’d lost family members, or who adopted orphaned children; or checking in on neighborhood fire departments. Whatever the angle, the message was always the same: this time it’s personal.
But it’s not just the major stories. Putting a local face on a news story is even more important when it is less epic. In fact, most journalists won’t even consider developing a story unless they know they can interview someone who’s been impacted by it.
Of course, sometimes finding that person is the hardest part of all. If you are trying to put a face on your story for the local media, here are some places to look:
-Your clients: This is usually the best and most obvious choice because you already have a relationship with them, you know their story and they know how you can help.
-Your colleagues: A lot of people, particularly those in the care-giving professions, are drawn to their work because of personal experience. This makes them experts in two ways. Don’t limit your search to your workplace, mine your entire professional network.
-Social and religious organizations: Whatever your story is, someone knows someone who’s been through it. Making inquiries through your clubs and church might help lead you to that person.
-Charitable Organizations: As long as legal or confidentiality issues are not at play, putting you in touch with their clients is a win-win for most charitable organizations since it usually gives them a little free publicity. For those in a caring profession, think community or senior centers, visiting nurse associations or patient care coordinators.
Even in this age of bare-all/share-all, there are times when people feel their story is just too personal to tell. When this happens, it helps to remind them that by talking about their experience they are not only helping others, they are letting them know they are not alone.