Launching a new product. Breaking ground on your new facility. A national honor for one of your local team members. These things may be newsworthy events, but how do you get the media to cover your story? Here are some tips from someone who has been on both sides of the assignment desk.
Have a Good Story. Before you call any media outlets ask yourself this question, “Would I read, watch or listen to this story if my organization was not involved?” Be honest. If the answer is no, you have to come up with a better story. The media are looking for stories that affect a number of people, evoke emotion or provide useful information their audience can use. Your story needs one or more of these elements to warrant coverage. Breaking ground on a building might not attract attention. New jobs for the people who will work inside might. Find and highlight the real newsworthy aspects to your story.
Be Honest. There is one thing worse than having no reporters show up to cover your story. That’s having reporters show up and find the story isn’t worth covering. You won’t get those people back. If you invited the Governor to your ribbon cutting don’t promise he’ll be there until it’s confirmed. If your story gets printed or broadcast you want it to be about what happened and not about what failed to happen.
Give the Reporters the Information They Need. This means you will need to write a news release. It should include all the basic information about how, when and where to cover your story. Include phone numbers and email addresses for at least one contact person. Highlight the newsworthy aspects of your story but don’t try to write the coverage yourself. Think of the release as an invitation. When appropriate, include visual elements. Attach a drawing of your new building to a release on the groundbreaking. If you’re announcing a new product, show them a picture. Make sure the images are of good quality and worthy of printing or posting to the web.
Be Flexible. There are slow news days and busy ones. When a reporter can’t be at your event on the day it happens be prepared to meet him or her on another day to tell your story. It’s also important to be aware of factors that might affect the media’s availability. You are not likely to get much attention for an event scheduled on Super Bowl Sunday or Election Day.
Develop Relationships. Take the time to learn the names of the reporters who cover the beats that apply to your business. Send your news release directly to them and call later to follow up. Meet the individual reporters who show up to cover your event. If they were interested enough to cover one story about your organization they may be interested in covering the next.
These tips won’t guarantee you will get coverage for your event. Even great stories get missed. However, they might help you attract attention in an increasingly busy media environment.