What do journalists want from businesses and brands?
ARE you dispatching desperately cheery emails about your unsung business to disinterested journalists?
Are you suffering the deflation of waiting days and weeks for replies that never come?
Are you feeling mystified by the media’s inability to recognise the revolutionary qualities of your products?
You could be suffering these setbacks because you don’t understand what journalists want from your business and brand.
Here’s a post that aims to give you a little insight into what the media and journalists want from email pitches.
It may help you secure the coverage you need for your business, brand and products.
EVERY journalist is tasked with bringing in story content capable of attracting a large audience.
Increasing listener, viewer or reader numbers allows media outlets to sell advertising space at higher prices. This is how a commercial media model works.
So, each day journalists are tasked with bringing in:
Great stories that haven't been told
All journalists want to break stories.
They want to be the first to tell the world something exciting.
This is their primary driver.
After that, whether to be published or broadcast, journalists want stories that will resonate strongly with their audience.
They want stories that evoke an emotional response. It may be shock, concern, amazement, inspiration, sadness, anger, surprise or another strong emotional reaction.
For you, the key to securing media coverage is to find stories within your brand’s eco-system that evoke one or more of those responses in an audience.
To help you find them, look for stories with recognisable human elements and the power to touch other people in one of those ways.
Then make appropriate reference to your brand.
Most journalists accept brand mentions in return for a good story.
Fresh news lines in ‘running’ stories
The media works with news cycles.
Stories break. Then develop. When all facts are gathered and reported, journalists look to the background of a story to report that.
Typically, once that is covered the story begins to die away.
But, before it does, a window of opportunity exists for brands to add their voice to the conversation around a story.
Where relevant, there’s a chance to offer expert opinion on elements of the story.
You can set up interviews or craft quotes to offer valuable analysis which also gives you a chance to plug your brand.
You may also possess relevant data and statistics that provide a broader perspective to the story.
Perhaps you have a similar case study that further validates the story.
These are all opportunities to submit new news lines that journalists will be keen to consider in their reporting.
JOURNALISTS will seek to develop relationships with you if you consistently help them to secure these two things.
And those two things become even more interesting to journalists if they contain one or more of the following qualities:
WHEN touting stories or news lines to their editors and producers, journalists are often asked, “What is strange or startling about it?” Real newsroom talk.
Ask yourself the same when you’re pitching to journalists.
Highlight what’s most notable about your story.
Ask yourself, “What is unusual about my story? Why is it important? Is there a deep significance to it?”
Perhaps you’ve created a product from an odd pairing of ingredients or parts.
Or does it produce an amazing reaction when used?
Or does it do profound good in the world?
Has the protagonist of your story battled the odds to now inspire others?
Look for the salience, aka notability, of your story.
JOURNALISTS work to tight schedules.
They’re driven by deadlines and need help in meeting them.
Being efficient when providing content or comment to journalists raises your value in their eyes.
They’ll come to you first in the future when they need more support.
It’s also worth learning and anticipating the routines of your target media.
Bringing story pitches and ideas to journalists ahead of their editorial conferences helps them too.
Broadcast planning desks, daily, weekly and monthly publications, including supplements, all have their own timeframe for production.
News, features and planning desks will give you the best times to pitch your stories.
FOR a journalist to pay attention to your email your story must align with their area of interest, or their ‘beat’ as the media likes to call it.
Choosing the most suitable publication, website, radio or TV show for your story is a good start to securing media coverage for your brand.
It’s the first thing to get right.
But the person you contact at that media outlet must also produce content similar to that of your story.
Do your research. Review journalists’ recent work. Does your story sit comfortably alongside any of it?
When you’ve identified the right journalist and contacted them, tell them why you think your story is relevant to them and their audience.
AS previously mentioned, one way to get a journalist’s attention is to give them a story that will evoke a strong emotional reaction from its audience.
Feelings connect people and therefore, they connect listeners, viewers and readers to stories which contain some sort of emotional content.
When submitting story pitches to journalists, consider the human impact of what has developed in you brand’s eco-system.
How does it affect people – on a practical and an emotional level? What is the natural human reaction to your news?
Putting people at the centre of your story, which may just be a simple business development, provides a way for audiences to connect with it on an emotional level.
Focus on that when communicating your story. It’s what will resonate most with an audience, and the journalist you’re pitching.
STORIES help us to connect with others. They give us shared experiences and values.
We tell our children bedtime stories to bond with them.
We recommend fiction and films to friends.
Stories create a sense of connection and community.
They also allow us to learn about something on a different and deeper level.
Whether local gossip or great works of art, the best stories are hard not to share.
Journalists want to receive stories with gossip factor. They want audiences to talk about their stories and name their source.
So, provide journalists with a story you would want to share with others. There’s a much better chance of the media using it.
AUDIENCES show up to be inspired.
That’s why media thrive on telling other people’s inspiring stories.
Within your brand eco-system you may spot one of the following four inspiring story archetypes.
‘Triumph over Adversity’, which recounts people battling the odds and many setbacks to achieve a goal.
‘Rags to Riches’ describes huge changes in fortune, usually through hard work and dedication.
‘Voyage and Return’ documents a worthwhile challenge to achieve a lofty aim, often for charity.
‘Resurrection’ relays (literal or figurative) birth, death and rebirth, transformation and how all may seem lost before something greater is achieved.
If you have a story that matches one of these arcs, you stand to interest a journalist and inspire an audience.
THE best stories contain an element of conflict.
They have tension built into their narrative.
Your business may be taking on a health issue or social ill, or a hostile competitor.
It may be struggling to adapt after an environmental change, such as Brexit or new legislation.
A staff member could be raising funds and awareness to help a child battle a rare condition.
Or they may be preparing for a sports competition, charity challenge or TV game show.
Perhaps a product you’re set to release will divide opinion.
All of these things contain conflict to a degree.
Look for conflict in your stories because journalists will give them due consideration.
ALL journalists are tasked with bringing in exclusives.
Exclusives make them very popular with editors and producers, and revered among their peers.
If you’ve grabbed a journalist’s attention and they want to run your story, it’s highly likely that they’ll ask for exclusivity.
That means they want to cut out every other media outlet’s right to break your story.
If your story isn’t strong enough to warrant other media picking it up after they break it, then you will get only one piece of media coverage for your efforts.
But, you are in a much better bargaining position to ask for multiple brand mentions in their report and any possible traffic links to your website.
If you want to know more about securing media coverage for your brand, feel free to get in touch with me for a free 20 minute consultation at no cost. Telephone 07460644844 or please use this contact page.