How To Get Media To Cover Your Story
Encouraging the media to cover your story has always been a challenge. However, it has become increasingly more difficult to do so with the abnormality of headlines in the past few years (i.e., COVID19, the war on Ukraine and Black Live Matter), which have taken over media coverage.
Adding to this, the rapid advancement and rise in technology makes journalists much more contactable, clogging up their inboxes and direct messages, making a relevant story more difficult to break through other submissions. There is also a declining lack of interest in the news altogether. In fact, according to Reuters Institute, interest in news has fallen sharply across markets, from 73% in 2017 to 51% in 2022.
Too often, journalists do not pick up stories because they are not newsworthy enough, perhaps do not target the right audience, will not be of interest to the public, or they just do not see the value in upholding a relationship with you and sharing your story. Therefore, it is vital that you can pitch a story that stands out, is of interest to the journalist and the audience, and sustains a relationship in which you both gain value.
But how can you ensure that you do this?
So what? – Before sending any press release or breaching contact with a journalist, ask yourself if anyone will really care about the story. Is it compelling enough? Will it captivate the audience? If you cannot answer the ‘so what?’ question, do not waste your time and risk your reputation by writing it and sending it out as a release. Consider creating an internal ‘check list’ by which you have a criterion that the story needs to align with before sharing it.
Create a compelling story – Beyond making sure that the subject line is captivating, make sure that the story is simple and that it can be summed up to a friend. Taking a positive angle is also helpful, with an alleged 36% of people avoiding the news because it has a negative effect on their mood (Reuters), it is beneficial to try and create a positive story which is of benefit to yourself and your business. Without reaching an audience, the story will fail to gain traction.
Is the story topical or timely? – It is important to engage with the news and look out for new stories. If you/your company have a unique point of view on this subject or have something else you can offer to add greater perspective, then it is a good opportunity to capitalise, but remember, it needs to be true. A story too exaggerated and spitting obvious lies can severely damage your reputation. In fact, 29% of people avoid the news because they believe it is untrustworthy or biased, thus it is important that this is avoided.
Develop and nurture relationships with journalists – The rise of social media paves the way for anyone to contact them. Thus, sustaining a relationship can act as a differentiating factor when they are opting to run with a story. Create a rapport with them by asking how they prefer to be contacted, engage with their work on social media, provide value and make their life as easy as possible. For example, always be accessible, put them in contact with people whom they may have an interest, include key figures and imagery to support the release and provide them with any additional information necessary.
In conclusion, is the story compelling and will anyone care? If not, do not waste your time. There is too much noise in the media world now and journalists will only engage with stories worth their while.
Furthermore, although people’s interest in the news appears to be declining, figureheads in the media are becoming increasingly more contactable due to the advancement in technology, which is placing greater emphasis on having a story that will not only stand out, but also align with the interests of the audience that will encourage their readership.
Encouraging the media to cover your story goes beyond having a captivating headline and compelling story, it often pins on the relationship you have developed and nurtured with key contacts within media. Therefore, aim to build a relationship in which value is shared both ways, and one in which their lives are made easier.