Work for any newspaper, magazine or broadcaster and you soon realise how desperate businesses and organisations are to get their opinions and news covered by the media.
The media is overwhelmed with emails, press releases and phone calls. But every day, hundreds end up deleted or in the bin– a wasted opportunity, and a complete waste of time for those who’ve spent ages crafting them and sending them out.
In truth, quite a few good stories are probably hidden within these missives and they’ll never see the light of day.
But don’t blame the poor news or features editors. Instead, put yourself in their shoes. It’s not unusual to start the day with hundreds of emails from hopeful PROs in your inbox and a pile of faxes and post several inches high.
In order to get on with the main job of the day – sorting out the actual content of their paper or programme and getting it published or on air, the editor will need to look through every potential story to decide what’s going to ‘make’ and what’s not.
Then they’ll despatch their reporters and producers to follow these leads up and transform them into copy for the paper, or items for their progamme.
Realistically the editor only has a few seconds scanning each potential item to assess might what’s newsworthy and what’s not. So if it’s badly written or poorly laid out, or the story’s lost on the second page, it doesn’t have a hope.
So, ahead of our Practical Media Workshop, I thought I’d share a couple of tips on how to make sure your story stands out:
1. Work out the most newsworthy angle of the story and put it in the headline
And think laterally as it might not actually be the story that you think is happening. For example: ‘new printing shop opens in Kingston’ is unlikely to excite many news editors. But ‘new Kingston printer sets out to save the planet by planting trees’ might well make the local story.
2. Offer photos and filming opportunities
It’s not enough just to provide a few lines of beautifully crafted words in a press release. Pictures are vital. Newspapers and websites need pictures to make their stories stand out, and they are often the difference between a story running or ending up in the bin. And television without pictures is basically radio. So it is essential that you provide interesting filming opportunities
3. Don’t feel compelled to send your story to every possible news outlet
When newsdesks receive repeated, regular, emails and press releases from the same business or organisation, they simply delete them without a thought (unless of course they know that each and every one will contain a fantastic story). But a daily or weekly update from a business is generally a waste of everyone’s time. Target your news carefully so that you know that you’re sending it to a media outlet that might well run it, and most importantly, make sure it actually contains some proper news.
So, if you want a newspaper or broadcaster to cover your story, make sure you look at it from an editors point of view and always write your email or press release with that in mind.