When I was a reporter, my inbox would get flooded with emails from people who were all essentially saying the same thing: “I’ve got a great story for you to tell.” While it was admirable that so many people wanted to get my attention by pitching me a story idea, I would always pick my stories based on relevance, timing and how much potential that story could advance my goals as a journalist. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough media space to tell every story anymore, so you have to be creative in “selling” your story to the media.
Here are a few tips I’ve picked up along the way.
Each story that you get in the media should raise your brand’s profile in the community, so choose wisely which stories to publicize to different news organizations. Recognize when an event is just another event. Learn to notice when something is happening that is so unique that everyone in the community would be amazed or shocked by it.
- Keep up with the trends. If you start noticing that everyone in the media is talking about funny cat videos and you pitch a story about the launch of your new political organization, the chance of a reporter taking interest in your story will be highly unlikely. It would be better to piggyback off current events. (Example: Check out how my organization is taking a stand against corrupt politics by sending bad politicians funny cat videos.)
- Don’t be afraid of conflict. The more you can explain how your brand is involved in a conflict or solving a conflict, the easier it will be to sell your story to the media. No matter what people might say about all the negative news, everyone loves drama.
- Learn the difference between a press release and a media advisory. A press release is something you send after something has already happened. A media advisory is the way you pitch something before it happens. Knowing the difference will help you plan a better publicity strategy.
- You are your own reporter. There is no one who cares about your brand more than you. Sometimes, the news media just won’t get it. In this social media era, that’s OK. With some creativity and the use of the Internet, you can craft your own story and make people pay attention. Write a blog post. Post a video to YouTube. Create your own hashtag. That’s actually the best kind of publicity.