Marketing Strategies for Small Business: How To Include Local Media in Your Marketing Plans

Marketing can present significant challenges to small-business owners. Most owners want to expand their customer base and make more sales, but often they struggle to find new ways to achieve these goals. If you’re looking for an effective and cost-efficient way to promote your business, turning to local media outlets can be a great choice. 


While the old saying, “All publicity is good publicity,” may or may not be true, being featured in local news media can have a big impact on a local business. In this article I’ll show why working with local news media in particular is important, and we’ll share insights from a Super Seller and their PR manager. Read on to learn how you can work with local media to promote your business.


Photo by Vanilla Bear Films on Unsplash.Photo by Vanilla Bear Films on Unsplash.

Why local media?


Neighborhood customers are the lifeblood of most local businesses, and local media is a great way to reach people in your area. Of course, we’re talking about a puff-piece feature, one of those spotlights that local news channels and papers do on businesses.


Getting featured in local news media can be a great way to make more sales and bring in more customers. It can give you great exposure to new customers, serve as a reminder to your current fans that you exist, and give you some extra credibility for both. 


Recently, @TCSlaguna from The Chakra Shack in Laguna Beach, CA, was featured in an LA Times article about their summer solstice event in June 2023. Cyrena Guyot, their Public Relations & Advertising Manager, shared, “Reaching out to local media can provide companies (no matter the size) a platform to share their latest news and promote their exceptionality. … Networking with local media has undoubtedly drawn more consumers to browsing both in-store and online shops [and has] built stronger communities. … This media coverage drew more people to the shop’s community-building events and attention toward the unique services The Chakra Shack offers.”


There is a wide range of audience types that read and watch local media, which may be different than the audience you may otherwise be able to reach through your usual methods. As a result, it can definitely be worth trying out this other outlet in an attempt to expand your customer base.


Local media outlets need you too.


The best part of using local media is that they want you just as much as you want them. Reaching out to them and suggesting a story is definitely a “feed two birds with one scone” situation.


Producing news media is a job just like anything else. Each show has a certain amount of airtime they need to fill, and each publication has a certain number of articles they need to publish, so they’re constantly looking for stories and content to fill their schedule and meet their word count. Luckily for you, small business is typically regarded as a popular news item. 


As this amazing clip from John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight” shows, it’s pretty much a consensus that “small business is the backbone of our economy.” The media is always looking for feel-good stories about small businesses, and they’re looking to feature someone just like you. You might as well make it easy for them — and benefit yourself — by letting them know about you and something interesting you’re doing.


A great way to pitch yourself is by focusing on a recent or upcoming notable thing your business is doing. It should be something interesting about your business. This could be as simple as a business anniversary, an event you’re putting on, a donation of your products or services or time, or anything else that has a compelling emotional connection. 


If you’re not currently planning on holding an event or donating through your business, getting some publicity is a great excuse to do it, so start planning!



LA Times: The Chakra Shack in Laguna Beach Serves as a beacon for spiritual seekers


How to reach out to local media organizations


Once you have a plan, it’s time to contact organizations. Make a list of some of your local media outlets. This can include print newspapers, magazines, online news and community publications (like Patch), newsletters, TV networks and shows, radio stations, and anyone else who might feature local businesses. Reach out to individual networks by calling, emailing, or messaging them through their social media accounts. You can usually find their contact information through their websites. 


While it’s not strictly necessary, a great way to reach out to the media is by writing and submitting a press release. I know, that sounds scary and intimidating, but it’s really not that bad! Guyot says: “Typically, I reach out to local media by sending … media advisories and news releases [to reporters, photographers, and magazines]. It is essential to highlight your business’s products, events, and services, as well as its importance to the community and what makes it so unique. With enough research and practice, anyone can write a press release, media advisory, or feature story to snag the media’s attention.” A press release is essentially a ready-to-publish announcement, bare-bones news article that includes certain key elements. Of course, not every organization will respond to feature you, but hopefully some will be receptive. Once you submit the press release, be on the lookout for a response! 


Local media marketing in action: chain reaction


In my ice cream business, any time we were featured in a newspaper or news show, we always got a big boost in sales from new and existing customers. Not only that, once you’ve been featured in one media outlet, it can start a chain reaction. Often someone who works at another media company will see the original feature and will reach out to feature you themselves, and so on and so on.


My ice cream shop was featured by Mr. G, a local celebrity weatherman for local news channel PIX11. That feature was seen by a reporter at the New York Times, who published an article, which was then seen by a reporter at The Gothamist, who then published another article. All of these happened within a few weeks of each other, and the effect it had on our business and sales was enormous. So many new customers came in, and customers who we haven’t seen in a while were inspired to swing by because of it. 


Guyot noticed a similar experience with The Chakra Shack. She said, “You may not always see immediate results. However, after being featured in local newspapers from sending out press releases and media advisories, The Chakra Shack in Laguna Beach was recognized and featured in The Real Housewives of Orange County and in the Los Angeles Times’ Daily Pilot.”


Jill Templin, the owner of The Chakra Shack, added, “I opened The Chakra Shack in 2002 to serve as a community center for those on their spiritual journey. By reaching out to various media outlets through press releases, we have been able to better connect with the community and ensure that we are meeting their needs.” 



The Chakra Shack on Instagram, featured by Christina on the Coast, HGTV


If all of this sounds like something that can benefit your business, make a plan and give it a try! Has this inspired you to reach out to be featured by local media? Let us know your plan and how it goes in the comments below. And if your business has already been featured by local media, how did it go?


Looking forward to reading your perspectives and experiences.

Aylon Pesso is the Square Small-Business Evangelist, helping sellers run their businesses better. Based in the U.S., he is a former small-business owner, consultant, and Square seller.


This article is only for informational purposes. The information provided in this article solely reflects the authors’ views and are not endorsed by Square. This article is limited in scope and is only intended as a high-level overview of the topics mentioned. Seller Community conversations are for educational purposes and do not constitute legal, financial, or tax advice. For guidance or advice specific to your business, you should consult with a qualified legal professional.

Cover photo by Vanilla Bear Films on Unsplash.

Super Seller

I would love to hear about the impact of local media. I ran a handful of print ads in local magazines along with every door direct mail; I knew I had to be consistent with it to see real conversions. We run on Nextdoor to keep our media local along with IG; those two bring in a fair amount of business for us.

Super Seller

great article and great reminder. Often local papers are LOOKING for stories so make sure to include them. 


Thanks for sharing, @Bronze_Palms ! This is definitely a different approach than running and paying for ads in local media -- instead, it's about being featured by local media, for free! It's about leveraging the media creation cycle to your advantage by showing off your business, what you're doing, and positioning yourself as an reputable expert in the area. 


Maybe @TCSlaguna can share more about the impact they felt through their journey!


Thank you, @DLRosenberg -- Absolutely! That's the secret sauce to this, they need us as much as (if not more than) we need them! 


Have you done anything like this?


This is such great advice! I actually used to work for a press release distribution company, and while I can't speak to recent offerings, I recall them having several well priced packages for small businesses targeting local news outlets. From my experience, looking for packages that include guaranteed online reach usually give you the best bang for your buck. Companies like business wire and cision/PRNewswire, while not cheap, have established partnerships to be able to at the very least guarantee a threshold of online postings -- So even if your story doesn't get picked up by a traditional media outlet, you can count on having a positive impact on boosting SEO.

Last thing I remember from my PR days, is a subscription service where you can signup as an expert and tune in to opportunities that fit your business. I cannot validate whether its worth the money from a business owners perspective -- but wanted to flag as something I always thought was a cool concept: ProfNet for Experts 


I'd definitely be interested in hearing if anyone has more recent experience with ProfNet or something similar (I cannot recall the competitors in the space 🤔, but i know there are/were similar services)

Thanks so much @Pesso for sharing your expertise and advice with the community! Definitely brought me back down memory lane!

Super Seller

Such a great reminder @Pesso! We did a ton of local publicity when we first opened, but haven't done much to reach out in recent years. You've got my wheels spinning on a few things we could pitch this year... thanks for the tips!


Thanks for sharing your expansive experience, @LeahK !


That ProfNet also sounds a bit like HARO (Help A Reporter Out) -- I almost included a bit about that in this post, but it went a little off direction so I skipped it. But maybe I'll bring it into another one someday!


Thanks again!


Thanks, @mksavage ! It's really easy to get overwhelmed with EVERYTHING involved in running a business and have some things slip and be forgotten. I'm so glad this could inspire you a bit. 

What are you thinking about doing and pitching?

Super Seller

Local media is so great to work with! Most of them will be happy to do a story on an upcoming event, or change in your business. Press releases are a great way to communicate with them. 


Thanks for sharing, @alexandriak !


Have you had your own experiences with this? I'd love to hear more about it here!

Super Seller

@Pesso we are able to get frequent press coverage thru our local papers and news stations. It helps to reach out to the same people each time because you build a relationship with them. 

We also always say yes to an on the spot interview when asked, even if it wasn't planned. 

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