ADVICE: What Makes Your Story News? 3 Tests to Predict Media Interest

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Most companies that invest in public relations and marketing services are passionate about their businesses, but that excitement can blur the line between what is newsworthy and what isn’t. As an account manager specializing in technology public relations, I help clients identify which announcements warrant a press release or media pitch – and which don’t – and develop compelling story angles around them. I’ve learned that as excited as you are about your company’s decision to begin targeting a new vertical, that doesn’t necessarily mean the media cares. Three tests will help you determine whether your company’s story belongs in the newsroom or in the break room.

1. Is this story timely?

If a company is honored with an industry award, put out the press release the day the award is made or the day after. Waiting a month makes it old news, which isn’t news at all.

Think about current events and brainstorm different ways to tie the company mission to those events. Our Dallas marketing firm has a client in the outplacement industry, and we often craft content around the topic of unemployment. Since 2011, we’ve put out a press release predicting the Super Bowl victor based on the jobless rates of the metro areas of the competing teams. For the same company we help with a March Madness “office pool” for people looking for work.

2. Does this story have a purpose?

Before you plan to pitch an announcement or put out a news release, ask yourself, “Will this help garner positive awareness for the company? Will it spark a conversation?” If the answer is yes to either question, it’s worth a pitch or even a press release.

The main goal when pitching the media is to grab their interest and formulate a story that they can easily use without much effort. We often provide publications with articles, videos, infographics and other related items that they can easily pop into their next issue or publish quickly on their websites. The key is catering to their needs, not yours.

3. Is this story relevant?

Keep your target media in mind. Some announcements might make sense for a technology business writer, but an editor who covers job-search advice could care less about the new client you just landed. When determining whom to pitch, ask yourself, “Does this story help their readers?”

Media folks are stretched thinner than ever, so their attention spans are short and time available for writing is limited. That’s why it’s imperative to be concise and provide content that’s relevant to their publications and their individual coverage responsibilities.

In the end, if you’re wondering whether an announcement will gain any traction, ask yourself if it’s timely, has purpose and is relevant to the company and the publications you’re pitching. If it misses the mark in any of those three areas, it’s probably better to confine that announcement to the company’s internal communications channels.

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About the author

Stephanie, senior account executive, is a media relations and social media professional with experience working with nonprofit, healthcare, finance, fashion and technology clients. Stephanie’s Idea Grove clients are involved in industries including asset, warehouse and expense management; human capital management; energy consulting; substance abuse rehabilitation; and mobile retailing. Stephanie’s efforts have earned her clients media coverage with an ad value equivalence of more than $1 million to date. Her work in media relations has been recognized with awards from PR News, Golden Bridge, and area chapters of the American Marketing Association and the Public Relations Society of America.

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