Have you ever pitched a news story only to have nobody show interest? Many factors play into how newsrooms choose to allocate resources. You may have little or no control over most factors, such as breaking news, but there are some things you can do to make your story as appealing as possible.
We live in a visual age. The old adage that a picture speaks a thousand words is truer than ever. Viewers and readers alike are more likely to remember the pictures associated with your story before they remember the words. Before you call a reporter or editor, think about your story from a photographer or videographer's perspective and incorporate that into your pitch.
Newsprint and airwaves are only part of the equation when it comes to telling a story in the 21st century. Reporters and editors now also consider how they can augment news coverage on the web. More and more newspapers and magazines are complementing their coverage with video.
Television and radio stations are using photo galleries. All are using interactive graphics to tell the story. Is there anything in your story that lends itself to digital storytelling? Pitch it!
3. HUMAN INTEREST
Your story pitch must demonstrate why the topic matters to people in your community. Human interest stories are one of the most effective ways to bring an issue home. Recruit someone to help you tell the story by sharing a personal experience and offer that story to the reporter or editor as a resource.
If a big news story is dominating the media, consider story angles that tie into your business or organization.
Media often look for local sidebars to national and international stories. For example, if there is a national shortage of gasoline and your company has found a creative solution to help keep costs as low as possible for consumers, you may have a tie-in. A word of caution: Be careful to consider how the storyline may be perceived publicly and the various angles a reporter could take on your pitch.
5. CONTACTS AND RELATIONSHIPS
In the world of media relations, relationships have always come first, and stories are frequently born of them.
The good news is that it's easier than ever to begin developing relationships in today's world of social media. For example, if you begin following a reporter's Twitter account and interacting with the reporter in a meaningful way, you can begin positioning yourself as a reliable resource. Get to know assignment editors. They are the newsroom "gatekeepers." Be respectful of their daily schedules, and remember, the best time to call with a nonurgent matter is typically between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
If you want to gain a better understanding of how the newsroom works, ask if you can attend a news assignment planning meeting. It may change your perspective on news - including your own!
There are no guarantees in the world of news, but employing these five strategies may significantly increase the odds of your story receiving proper news consideration.
Jeanette Duwe, owner of Duwe Public Relations and a former journalist. firstname.lastname@example.org