Give a story idea to a journalist
Did you ever think of giving the perfect gift to your media contacts–a well-developed developed story idea? No, then put that on your list of To-Dos.
When birthdays or holidays come around, people seek the perfect gifts for their clients, family or friends. You can do it for your business if you are willing to put in some work or have a dedicated marketing department that can take on this task.
Getting in the news
Packaging a story with all the items a journalist, blogger or reporter needs can gain your business earned media and pick-up. Journalists are not that different from the rest of us. They have a job to do and that job requires them to produce compelling content for their audiences…which is the same goal you have. As a business marketing itself, you need to provide your customers and prospects with the right information to help them choose your firm over others. When these two goals come together, you get earned media.
Required story idea steps
Here are a few requirements you must have in order to pitch a story:
- Familiarity with your community’s journalists. Within your community, whether it be bloggers, online magazines, consumer or trade magazines, newspapers, radio or television, there are outlets that need your news. You need to know who they are and how and what they prefer to receive from your company. As a public relations professional, it is my job to do this for my clients. But you can do this too. And in fact you should monitor your local news and content outlets so you understand who their audiences are. If you don’t have time to do this, nothing else on this list will be of much use to you. Because, when you monitor an outlet, not only do you know their “slant” you understand exactly how they approach a story. You’ll note that some are sensationalists, some are conservative, some are liberal. And when it comes to trades, some take story ideas and some don’t. If you want to “pitch” stories, and aren’t able to know these things, partner with a public relations provider. This is a core competency for most successful public relations practitioners. They make it their business to understand what journalists need.
- A positive reputation. If you are active in your community, and on social media and are well respected, you will have greater success in gaining placement.
- A compelling “news peg” or hook which makes the story essential and compelling to the journalist’s audience. Ask yourself this as you draft a story idea: “Why should someone care about this story?” If you can’t answer that question, then keep thinking. After you comprehend the angle you are going to use, write a three to four sentence paragraph that wraps this concept into a neat package—this is your story idea, or pitch.
- A press release or media advisory that sums up all the relevant facts and details about who, what, when, where, and why. If you aren’t sure how to write a press release, or media advisory, you can find lots of advice on the writing of press releases on the web.
- High quality, high resolution photos of the subjects or items discussed in your story. Many outlets will accept images to illustrate the story, and you must have these in hand. Note in your press release that you have images available to journalists and will supply them upon request. If your firm has an online newsroom or is using an online distribution system such as PR Web, you will be able to add your images to the online area. If your business doesn’t have an online media area where you you can share necessary materials with journalists, have your web developers create one for you.
- Logos or brand marks of the companies who are the subjects of your release. Online trade journals frequently will use your firm’s logo or brand mark to illustrate a story, so have a good quality file available at a high resolution. You may also need to have a vector based file for print publications. Vector based files scale and will provide a better reproduction of your businesses logo than a low resolution .jpg or .gif file.
Now, share your story idea
When you have all these requirements met, you can “pitch” or share your story idea. Most journalists have preferences about how they like to receive story ideas. I recommend that you get to know the journalists in your community in advance and to learn their preferences and how they like materials submitted. Some will not accept attached files, and some will only accept files submitted through their online submission portal. For others like bloggers, you really need to have a working relationship with them in advance. You can’t just expect them to take a story you pitch, when you don’t know them.
If you’ve done all these things correctly, the outlet will be delighted to accept your story, just like a well selected gift delights the recipient.
Oh, and just like when you get a real gift, be sure to write a thank you note.
Photo credit: flickr user comedy_nose