So you’ve a great story to tell and you want to get it into the big wide world, but you’ve not got a clue where to start.
Well don’t worry, here’s our seven-point guide to getting your story in front of the right people in the media. Get ready to read all about it…
1. Research the media you want to target
The first thing after writing your story is to look up which media to target. It might sound obvious but make sure that they cover the geographical location that you’re based in, and that it’s the type of content that they’re likely to feature. There’s no simpler way to annoy an already busy journalist than bothering them with a story that’s just not relevant!
2. Prepare before you pick up the phone
Make sure you know your story inside and out before you pick up the phone to sell it in. If you don’t know all the the story details, then as well as making yourself look pretty idiotic it will also annoy the journalist for wasting their time. To avoid this pitfall, write a list of the possible questions they could ask so you and have the answers ready at your fingertips.
3. Make the story clear
Once you’ve managed to secure the email address of the person you need to send it to, you need to think about how your email is going to read. News desks get inundated with emails from people so you need to make sure yours is seen and not put straight into the deleted items box.
Forget puntastic titles, make it clear from the outset what the story is about. Reporters don’t want to spend time sifting through a story to work out what the angle is, or what the local links are. Make it as clear as possible in the email subject, and then write a short summary in the email itself.
4. Give them an offer they can’t refuse
When contacting journalists, particularly those who work in broadcast, it’s really important to think about what it is they need to tell the story in their format. Bullet point: the different people they could interview and what each would speak about; what sound bites they could gather; any video footage they could get and experts that might be able to give some weight to the story.
5. Be human
Be friendly, remember reporters’ names, and ask them about themselves. If they feel like they have a rapport with you they will be more approachable. It’s worth putting together a contacts book with names, email addresses and roles of key media contacts so you don’t have to start from scratch each time you call. And if you want to take it one step further then why not see if they have a Twitter page, so you can keep in touch in an informal way in between stories.
6. Follow up with another call
If you find that you’ve not heard anything back after sending a press release…. then call again. It doesn’t hurt to ask why they aren’t interested in a story. At Viva we’ve found that a lot of news desks and planners will explain the reasons why they don’t want to run something and will also give some guidance about the content they’re after – after all, if you can help them do their job then why wouldn’t they tell you?!
7. Last but not least – only send them the story if you think it has news value
It might sound counter intuitive but knowing when to not send out a story is really important. You don’t want to get a reputation for sending out something that has no news value. Local media is easier to get into but national press will want the wow factor. So, make sure you think about if you really want to be sending this story to this contact before you hit the send button.