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Boost your Media Coverage? Ideas for Creating News Stories Journalists Will Love

Debbie Leven

May 18, 2020

Ever scrambled around to find PR pitch opportunities to raise the profile of yourself and your business to get media coverage?

PR News stories are a great way to get coverage in the press and media. But, creating news stories that journalists will love can sometimes feel like feast or famine – some months news stories might pop up all over the place, the next month – nothing.

The Key to Giving Journalists What they Want

So, how do some individuals and businesses manage to maintain a consistently high profile? Bigger businesses may well have considerable budgets and a dedicated Public Relations team, but that does not mean that such media coverage is out of reach for smaller businesses. The key is to have an understanding of what journalists are looking for and to give that to them consistently, in a way that serves their purposes as well as yours.

Planning Your News Stories

You probably have a number of news stories but you might not realise it. And, you’ll certainly have the potential to ‘create’ news stories to get noticed. That’s exactly what successful PR professionals do – they find a way to get noticed, they ‘create’ stories. So, you have to think about it from both perspectives. You need to capture the news stories you have and that you know will be coming along. And, you have to think about what you can do to ‘create’ a news story too.

Let’s be clear, “creating” doesn’t mean making it up. It simply means understanding what journalists want from you and then packaging what you have in a way that fits with that. So, where do you start?

First, have a good understanding of what journalists want. Second, list down the obvious news stories you have or you know are coming up. Third, think about the tactic of ‘creating’ a news story and how you will pitch it. Check out the list below for help to pin down the stories you might already have as well as those you can ‘create’ to get media coverage.

Media Pitch Ideas That Don’t Depend on News

  • Show a peek behind the scenes: Stories like “a day in the life of” or a behind the scenes look can be of interest to journalists, says business coach Joseph James, @JosephJamesMMS. Pulling back the curtain on your organization allows reporters to bring their audiences inside how things work.
  • Tell an origin story: “I always appreciate a good origin story, for example, how an established company grew or a profile of the owner,” says tech reporter Kelly McSweeney, @kellysimonsays. Talk about the history behind the brand.
  • Try custom-tailored media pitching: When your brand is having a slow news day, spend more time tailoring your pitch to a particular reporter. “The more tailored your pitch is to the publication (or to the writer), the more likely we are to move forward with it, regardless of how ‘newsy’ it is,” McSweeney says.
  • Give newsjacking a go: Can your company jump on a trending topic? If you act quickly, you may be able to achieve what David Meerman Scott refers to as “newsjacking.” Start the day by checking Google Trends or taking a look at what’s trending on Twitter to find some possible story angles that may present opportunities for your brand.
  • HR stories can be hidden gems: It’s more common these days to see pieces that focus on a company’s HR practices, as organizations try to change things up to compete for the best talent. “Often what PR qualifies as news doesn’t interest editors as much as routine things companies take for granted,” says journalist Jared Lindzon, @JLindzon. “Interesting culture quirks, productivity hacks and unique hiring practices that develop gradually are often hidden gems.”
  • Use data to create a compelling media pitch: “Make a story with interesting data,” says @ginarau. “Almost any hypothesis can be supported with data these days. Curate it in a new way for an interesting story about the problem your client solves.” What if you don’t have your own data? Try pulling some from Google. “Google has a really great rich library of micro bite-size data analysis, if you don’t have the ability to do the analysis yourself. Take a look at what other companies are putting out there and maybe put together a response piece to some of your competitors,” Katie Robbert co-founder and CEO of Trust Insights, @katierobbert.
  • Look to your employees or customers: Perhaps the media relations team can come up with a story about an employee or customer who’s doing something interesting, suggests PR pro Olivia Adams, @OliviaAdamsPR. “Share community service initiatives and personal stories of how employees, customers or volunteers are making a difference,” adds Mary Beth West of MBW Communications, @marybethwest.  
  • Feature charitable or CSR causes: Digital media strategist Sarah Clarke, @sclarkeOville, says tying in a brand’s involvement in a charitable event or effort can be a smart way to get press. If your brand is taking part in some sort of corporate social responsibility initiative, that can also make an interesting story idea.  
  • Celebrate a significant milestone: Are your employees, colleagues or clients celebrating an anniversary or milestone? Margie Dolch, @margiedolch, says that a company anniversary can be pitched to press. The longer they’ve been in business, the more compelling the story can be. How did they reinvent themselves to stay relevant through the years?
  • Tie a story into an “awareness” day: Gemma Birbeck, @LeulyPPR, says awareness days provide a great foundation for stories as there are some that most businesses can relate to. Meltwater runs a piece each month listing “awareness” days and other national days that brands can look to for ideas.

Next Steps in Media Pitching

Try plugging a few of these ideas into your slow news periods to chalk up some media relations wins. And for a comprehensive guide to pitching stories, connecting to journalists, and getting your messaging right, read our ebook, New Strategies in Media Relations. 

Then, you then need to put it all into a calendar. It’s important too to do your research to find the right journalists who will be interested in your news story. For any news story you will need to tailor your approach to make it as relevant as possible. The news hook is one part of it; you also need to include other elements the journalist will want such as human interest.

So, if you are targeting local, national, regional, trade press and media then you will need press releases that are tweaked for each of those, tailored for their specific audiences.

Remember too, you don’t need to rely just on news stories to get noticed by journalists. There are other ways and those should be slotted into your Public Relations calendar too.

When you do have a news story then make the most of it by promoting it to your target audience that matter to you via your email subscriber list, your website, Slideshare, social networks, etc… You’ll want to present the story tailored for them. Don’t just send them the press release or send them a link to it. They need the information presented differently.

In a nutshell: Your news story has to add value and be relevant to a journalist’s audience. But, finding a reason for a story isn’t as difficult as you might think – you have very many news stories, it’s just a matter of spotting them and packaging them in the right way.

So, what’s your next news story coming up and how are you going to package that for your key journalists? 

Ideas for news stories can be found by looking at the social media chatter of your industry. Meltwater provides a platform for deep analysis and listening, ripe for mining story ideas. Contact us for a demo.