On a daily basis, PR professionals decide which story ideas to share with media, when to pull the trigger, and which publication/reporter would make the most sense for the angle. Appropriately acting on these issues is the difference between your story or client hitting the paper or becoming a nuisance to the media.
tHere are some simple things to consider:
• Timeliness. Is the story you’re sharing relevant in the moment? Is it a hot button issue that reporters will want to write about and readers will need to digest? If so, you’re off to a great start.
• Audience & appeal. If you’re looking to place a bylined article in a specialized trade publication (e.g. Modern Healthcare), a proposed topic should be very specific and should appeal directly to the publication’s readership.
If you’re reaching out to the editor of a business publication, it will be critical to find the business angle. Ask yourself “how could a business owner/operator benefit or learn from this topic” or “what value/insight am I providing to the business audience?” If you can’t find a solid answer to either question, the odds are it isn’t a fit.
Lastly, when reaching out to a daily newspaper, website, etc., the subject matter will have to appeal to an extremely broad audience. The inner-workings of a hospital administration team, for example, probably won’t make the cut. Think of what the average Joe with a cup of coffee and the Sunday paper would want to read, and see if you can make your topic a fit!
• Background check. Take the time to research the reporter you’re considering contacting. Don’t hang your hat on what the “Contact Us” page says a reporter covers — do a few searches and read some recent articles. If you take the time to do the due diligence before blasting out a million emails, it will be far easier to get in front of the appropriate media contact.
• Short & sweet. Now, more than ever, editors and reporters are incredibly busy. They’re covering more beats with tighter deadlines and, to top it off, there is added pressure to maintain a Web presence through blogging and the like. Though this doesn’t directly pertain to finding a newsworthy angle, it is applicable across the board. Even the best story can be overlooked if you ramble on for two pages.
In any reporter communication, brevity goes a long way. Communicate your story idea in a concise fashion (don’t be afraid of bullet points!), tell them why it would matter to the readership and briefly describe the credentials of the source you’re proposing (what makes him/her an expert in the given area?). Be friendly, of course! Simply remain cognizant and respectful of the tight schedules around which you’re working.
There you have it — four simple best practices to keep in mind when working with the media!
This post was co-authored by Erin Sabo, an account manager at Identity.