Ten Steps to Making Your News Newsworthy
Determining whether, when and how to share your story with media requires a good deal more than your personal enthusiasm. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind, first to measure whether you’re truly newsworthy, and then, how to score a headline.
1. Ask yourself “So what?”
Is the story you want to tell relevant to the broader community? Does it have an impact on the audience you’re trying to reach? Is it a unique achievement? Is it timely? Why should others care?
Practice humility and make sure it’s not just exciting to you and your organization. And, most importantly, make sure this is information, not a promotion. If you’re pitching what is essentially an ad for your business, stop now.
2. Focus on your target
Determining your audience will determine your media outlet. A story about a new CEO won’t appeal to Family Circle. Once you know your audience, identify and research the media that reaches them efficiently. Read reporters’ stories, identify their angles of interest. Find your “way in” by knowing what the outlet and reporter cover and why your story aligns.
3. Making contact
Email is generally preferred, but phone is also a good option. You can begin by simply reaching out to find out the reporter’s preference, without getting into the pitch. Importantly, if a phone call is preferred, always ask the reporter, “is now a good time?” Twitter is another option, but best engaged if you and your organization are already frequent users of Twitter and have a regular following.
4. Practice your pitch
Like all of us, journalists are busy people whose professional lives revolve around deadlines. Be succinct and summarize, without getting into the details. Offer the broader context and why your story matters. There will be time for details later, if the reporter is inclined to cover.
5. Take a breath
When you’ve finished your pitch, stop talking. Give the reporter a chance to ask questions and determine the story’s value to his or her audience. Listen. Is there an opportunity to adjust your pitch to make it more relevant? Is there a nuance the reporter would prefer to develop? Be flexible and willing to satisfy the reporter’s interests.
6. Have Assets at the Ready
If you’re pitching print media, consider a photo opp. If you’re pitching a radio program or podcast, have a spokesperson in mind. If you’re pitching TV, offer video content. Provide the materials and resources that will help the reporter tell the story.
7. Be prepared for the interview
Media coaching is an industry of its own, but here are some top tips:
· Flag your key points with introductory phrases such as, “Here’s what’s really important…” or “The three key points are….” Or “Let me be perfectly clear…”
· Don’t use humor, play it straight. No joke is funny to everyone. Keep your funny bone under wraps.
· As above when pitching, stop talking. It’s the editor’s job to cut the dead air, not yours. Make your point and stop.
· Be prepared for the “Is there anything else you’d like to add” question. This is your opportunity to summarize your pitch. Practice this. Then practice it again.
8. You got the story!
Congratulations! You got the coverage you were after. Now enterprise it. Share the link on social platforms, send it by eblast to your customers. Post it on your website. Let that coverage live a little!
9. Or, you didn’t.
Be prepared for “No.” It’s not personal, it’s a matter of limited time, space and staff. Or, it’s just not as newsworthy as you’d hoped. Be graceful in accepting the rejection as you may well want to pitch this reporter again. Leave a good impression so that door will be open.
10. Rejection requires repurposing your story
The terrific thing about social media is a “no” from traditional media is no longer the end of the road. Develop your story as a blog post, then share links to that story on your social media platforms. Or, find another blog or podcast that covers your target audience and offer yourself as a guest blogger or guest interview. Use your story as an eblast to customers, or a newsletter.
Media relations is big part of what Fluent PR provides our clients. If all this seems a bit daunting, we’re here to guide you through it and help you build a pitch that will earn the coverage you’re after.