Let’s face it. All news outlets need stories, but they don’t need your stories unless you are a massive multi-national company offering them an exclusive. There is plenty of news out there so you have no automatic right to space on their page. Here’s what might influence whether your story makes the grade.
1. The point of difference – is your story genuinely interesting to the wider world, or is it really just a bit of promotion for your company? If you want quality coverage it is better to save your energies for the genuine stories, rather than get a reputation for sending journalists things they are never going to print.
2. The particular media outlet’s news agenda – every single newspaper, radio programme, magazine and TV programme is different. They have different types of stories they like to cover and come at things from different angles. The very best thing to do is to get to know your target media – read it, listen to it, watch it – then you’ll see what kinds of stories they like to feature.
3. The geographical patch – local media like to cover local stories, the more local the better. If you can’t buy their paper in your local newsagent’s, the chances are you won’t be in their patch.
4. A strong spokesperson – if you want to secure good quality broadcast coverage then a confident, well-briefed spokesperson is your best asset. To create that strong spokesperson you need good training and plenty of rehearsal.
5. Pictures – strong images can not only help get your story into a paper, but they can massively increase the space your story is allocated, and its placement on the page. The right-hand page is the best place to be because of how people naturally read papers and picture stories tend to be in the top half of the page. Your image will need to be well framed, preferably an action shot of some kind. The worst thing in the world is a group of people in suits smiling or, shudder, the handing over of a huge cheque. The picture should help tell the story, not be an additional extra.
6. Video – newspaper journalists are increasingly under pressure to produce content for their online versions, and video is at the heart of this. If you can supply professional video content to support your story you have a great chance of making it into the online version of your target media, which will have benefits for your own website’s rankings in the search engines. The trick here is in the production. It must not scream “a PR person produced this video” and should match the house style of the media outlet you’re targeting. There are specialist companies who can produce this kind of video press release for you.
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