The rapid advancement of technology in recent years has completely transformed the way the world broadcasts, receives and digests information. The 24/7 nature of news reporting has been further fuelled by a rise in citizen journalism, with people immediately sharing their experiences or breaking news stories on social media. In such a crowded space it can be difficult to make your news stand out. Having spent over 15 years in the profession, Amanda Bunn shares her tips to ensure your news is newsworthy.
1. Location, location, location
Even though you may have launched an app which attracts a global audience, this does not mean that media across the globe will be interested in your news! News which has a specific local hook is more likely to capture the interest of the local media, so it’s worth reviewing which areas your story has particular appeal, connections or relevance to.
Timing is absolutely essential to the successful placement of your story, so make sure you’ve undertaken a thorough scan of the news prior to pitching to ensure there isn’t a breaking story taking place which is likely to overshadow your news. Consider timely hooks such as company milestones, anniversaries or ties to topical awareness dates to add a sense of urgency to your story.
3. Human interest
Both the press and the public are instinctively more interested in people than they are in brands, which is why leading with a human-interest angle can often prove successful when pitching new pieces. A heart-warming, shocking or humorous story of an employee, a customer or one of the company founders, is likely to capture the interest of a journalist far more than the launch of a new website or an office relocation.
Always consider what impact the news will have on the audience of the media outlet you’re pitching to. Their news agenda is geared towards the issues which are pertinent to their viewers, readers or listeners, so be sure that you’ve fully understood the end user and how your news will directly affect them.
Pitching your story into the media is one thing, but what happens when a journalist is interested and wants an interview? Furthermore, a live one?! Deciding on the right spokespeople for your brand is essential, as is making sure they have undertaken appropriate media training and are well-prepared for any media interviews. This doesn’t always have to be the most senior person within the business: it’s more important that they are calm, composed and confident, and can portray the brand in the best light, even in the face of tough questioning.
Understanding what it is that makes your news, your company or your views unique is essential to gaining that all-important media buy-in. Journalists are bombarded with stories every day, with many of them falling into the ‘me too’ category. By determining from the onset what it is that makes your story different, you’re more likely to capture the interest of journalists and secure that all important coverage.
I often come across people refusing to comment on a particular theme or topic because they feel they ‘don’t have anything of value to say’. The reality is that everyone has an opinion on something, whether it’s positive, negative or neutral: you can add value to relevant debates and conversations simply by having a clear and concise viewpoint on a particular theme or subject.
While this isn’t a tactic for the faint hearted, having a controversial angle to your news item is likely to make it far more interesting to journalists. It may be a particular opinion on a topical news story, or you could be challenging the status quo in your sector. You could even be pushing the boundaries of innovation into a new and unproven area. Whatever the angle, be sure that you’ve fully reviewed the potential impact of taking a controversial stance and be prepared to respond to any opposing views.
9. Backed by stats
News stories are far more powerful when they’re backed up by original facts, figures or statistics. These can be in the form of surveys, polls, user data or any other forms of stats which can help to illustrate the story. If you don’t have sufficient data in-house, there are specialist companies such as YouGov who you can partner with to obtain first-hand statistics which can then be used to shape your news story.
10. So what?
After all your hard work and preparation getting your news pitch just right, you still might be faced with the dreaded response from the media: ‘so, what?’ This is why it’s essential that prior to pitching your story, you always try and evaluate your news from the perspective of a journalist. If you find yourself asking the question ‘so what?’ then it’s highly likely that a journalist will come to the same conclusion. Understanding the ‘why’ of your news item will help you to transform your story from simply promoting your business to focusing on the true news element.