Every business owner wants to know how to get journalists to write a story on their business. Unfortunately, there is no magic formula that reveals how a story gets on the news or in the newspapers, but there are guidelines that can increase your chances for coverage.
As Executive Producer with NBC in New York, I approved story ideas from reporters, publicists and producers. Sometimes, stories were approved but later killed for various reasons.
Other times, I killed a story because it lacked visuals or had outdated information. The approval process in news is subjective, just like any other profession involving creativity, opinions and experiences. So if you get a bite from the media, move fast and don’t delay.
So how do you get journalists to cover your business? You can increase your chances for coverage by identifying what is different, new or unique about your business. It sounds simple but a lot of people forget that news is based on the root “new.” They pitch stories but forget about timeliness. If you don’t have that “new” component, your story is at a disadvantage.
You can figure out what is new about your business by asking some simple questions: Is your business contributing to the local community in a unique way we might not expect? Are you about to accomplish a feat where others have failed? What is different between you and competitors?
Focus and Clarify your Pitch
The more you can clarify and focus your pitch, the better odds you have of getting your business on the news.
Finding a unique angle is not as difficult as it may sound. You just need to open your mind to timely events that impact and influence sales of your product or service. If you own a fashion or jewelry store, try to link your product to high-profile events like the Academy Awards or the Grammy Awards.
If your business is geared towards a niche audience, like traveling business executives, scan the headlines in the business sections of various newspapers for possible tie-ins to current events.
Biggest Mistakes Most Publicists Make
Not properly defining the story is one of the biggest mistakes most publicists make. Your success on pitching depends greatly on how well you define that story because in many cases, you may only get one shot at pitching your story idea.
You can focus your story by understanding and applying the five W’s (Who, What, When, Where, Why and How).
Who is this story about? Who is the character in the center of the story? If you are pitching an organization, business or nonprofit you must identify a person to revolve the story around because the best stories involve people. You will improve your chances of coverage by identifying a sympathetic character that viewers and readers can relate to.
- What is this story about?
- What is unique about it?
- What is different?
- What is the conflict?
- What is the story you want to tell?
By identifying the “What” you will have an edge in pitching the story because your story idea will be more focused.
Creating a Timely PR Element
Where is this story taking place? Does the location have any value or importance in the community? A diner in Iowa has little national news value, unless it is a Presidential election year when all of the candidates are pressing the flesh with patrons over ham and eggs. Take a moment to examine your entire surroundings before pitching the story because you might uncover something that increases the value of the story idea.
- When does your story take place?
- Does it have any timely components?
- Will your story take place on a single night or day?
- Is your story relevant at a certain time of the month?
All of these questions could make your story timely, which will increase the value of your story.
- Why should anyone care about your story?
- Why is this story happening?
- Why are people coming to your event or why are people buying your product or service?
Once you identify why your story is important to the public, you have focused your pitch down to the core and uncovered why your story is newsworthy.
- How is your story, business, service or product changing lives?
- How are you helping people?
- How will your business or product save people money or better their lives?
Not every story has a “how” factor, but it is still important to ask yourself this question.
The more you understand the definition and value of “newsworthy” the better chance you will have of getting media coverage for you or your business. And once you are successfully pitching story ideas, you are better able to shape the message and spin the media into your favor.
ABOUT MACIAS PR
MACIAS PR was founded in 2009 by Mark Macias – a former Executive Producer with NBC and Senior Producer with CBS in New York. Marketing peers named MACIAS PR the Strategic PR Firm of the Year while Finance Monthly named us the Top PR consulting firm in 2015 and Financial PR Firm of the Year in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. City & State Magazine also named Mark Macias a Top 50 Political PR Player in New York.