Why It’s Important to Be Part of Your Local Community – Even the Press

So I’ve lived here in San Antonio for just over a year now and have been featured in two articles by San Antonio Magazines. Why? I’m convinced it is because of my active and local presence in the online and offline community. And when I say “presence,” I mean this: I interact with the local community online. This means I comment on posts from businesses on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and, of course, Twitter. 

I’m also a member of quite a few local community groups on Facebook. This is all very helpful when the press wants to reach out for a story. They have deadlines, too.

So why should you be part of your local community and take advantage of seemingly fluff pieces and press opportunities?

San Antonio Report’s Where I Live Series

Shortly before Fiesta happened here in 2021 (scheduled for June last year), I was contacted through Instagram by the San Antonio Report. They have a series called “Where I Live” that talks about the different neighborhoods here in Alamo City. Of course, since I live in Lavaca, that wasn’t covered yet. Right place. Right time.

That article was published on May 1, 2021, and I love that I had just put up my Fiesta banner for the balcony photo!

“The Where I Live series aims to showcase our diverse city and region by spotlighting its many vibrant neighborhoods. Each week a local resident invites us over and lets us in on what makes their neighborhood special. Have we been to your neighborhood yet? Get in touch to share your story.” San Antonio Report 

Voyage’s Inspiring Stories Series

Back in April of 2021, I was contacted by ​​Stephanie Rodriguez of Voyage LA to be part of their Inspiring Stories features. I mentioned that I moved to San Antonio and then was contacted Camila Sanchez in December. That article was published on January 5, 2022.  

Is it an in-depth piece from a local news station? No. And by the way, most of those news interviews are paid promotions. Personal branding and brand awareness for your company don’t come cheaply, so take advantage of these types of media opportunities when you can. 

Below are five tips on how to be a good subject for a press or podcast interview.

Tip 1 – Try Not to Copy/Paste Your Same Boring Story

Each press interview is different. Some will call and interview over the phone like the San Antonio Report did. Voyage sent me a link to answer questions. Sure, I’ve answered “my story” questions before like for Cloudways, WPFounders, and a ton of video podcasts. It would be easy to copy and paste from a Google Doc. But we evolve, our story evolves, and the questions are different. Cutting and pasting answers will be really boring. That’s the opposite of interesting.

When you have an opportunity for an interview by the press – especially in your local community – localize your answers as much as possible. 

For example, The San Antonio Report asked me why I chose my neighborhood. This is an opportunity for me to name-drop my favorite Mexican Restaurant.

“I chose to live in Lavaca because of its walkability and proximity to Rosario’s. While on vacation, I went to Rosario’s after a suggestion from Google maps based on a restaurant I liked in California, and it did not disappoint. The Griselda’s tacos are amazing – so good I knew I had to live nearby so I could visit often. I like that I can go sit at the bar and have lunch and some drinks, chat with the bartenders, and watch some football.“

The Voyage chose to ask me about my struggle as a business owner – which I am always happy to talk about. That’s always an opportunity for an interesting answer.

“There have been tears. Many tears. And I have a therapist to work through these things as well as a few close friends in the business. You can’t control what happens within a client’s internal structure. You can’t convince them to believe in Twitter. What you can do, is understand yourself.” Bridget Willard

Tip 2 – Be Helpful, Be Available, and Be Interesting 

Back in the day when I worked in construction, I signed up on HARO (Help a Reporter Out) to be a source. I may do that again. I should do that again. The point is that being a helpful, available, and interesting source in your local community will only increase press inquiries. It also doesn’t hurt your brand awareness to be listed in the “news” section of a Google Search. I’m personally working on that as well. (Twitter won’t verify your account unless you’re “noteworthy.” Apparently, I’m not “noteworthy” enough.)

Making friends with the press isn’t a bad thing. Join your local Chamber, attend volunteer and ribbon-cutting events. Have distinct opinions that make you a good interview – and this can also go for podcasting. But that would be another topic. If you don’t have an opinion, there’s nothing to talk about. I used to joke with my friend Jen Miller about how our show was a bit boring since we agree too often – except for the Oxford Comma. (Don’t even get me started. Or her. HA!)

Tip 3 – Recommend Other Sources for Local Interviews

It could be said that this is a side tip for Tip 2. Be helpful by recommending other people the press can interview. For Voyage, I recommended Fat Dog Creatives and Zen, Sweat and Cheers. For San Antonio Report, I’ve made suggestions for “Where I Work” and introductions through email. I’ve also done with this when I see podcasters looking for guests. Suggest other people, they’ll always be happy to invite you as well. Whichever order it comes, be helpful. 

Tip 4 – Ensure You Have Background Info At the Ready

Whether it’s an official Press Kit or an up-to-date bio in the third person on your website, be sure to have background info at the ready. Most press interviews – and podcasts – will want your official headshot, additional interesting photos, as well as short or long bios. It’s much easier and reads more consistently across the internet if you’re using the same language and style. This is where copy/paste works well for you.

Tip 5 – Good Interviewees Share Their Interviews On Social Media

If you want to be a good interviewee (or a good podcast guest) then you’ll want to share those interviews online. And not just once, either. Keep sharing those links. Do it in different ways. Mix up the share with quotes, not just headlines. Write a blog post linking to that show (or those like I’m doing now). As altruistic as we all want to believe we are, reaching out to guests is a way of extending our brand. Why wouldn’t it be the same with the local community press? 

How Will You Be Part of Your Local Community and Press in 2022?

How much you want to be found online depends upon you. Twitter, interviews, organic backlinks, name dropping is all part of your long-term goals of brand recognition. I started my first Twitter account in 2007. All of this didn’t happen overnight. So how will you start the ball rolling?