The best definition of news I’ve ever heard is this:
‘Dog bites man’ isn’t news.
‘Man bites dog’ is.
What I’m saying is that ‘news’ has to be of interest to people in general rather than a very small niche. Journalists spend years perfecting their craft and although they sometimes get a bad rap, they are highly professional and check the facts before they publish. They recognise what news is – it’s their job.
News is everywhere – it’s often a case of recognising it.
So for the sake of this argument let’s assume something of note has happened in your organisation and you’re keen to get the word out. But how can you ensure that you will get maximum media coverage from it?
As a leading PR agency, writing and distributing press releases for clients is our forte but if you’re new to the media scene and want to test the water before diving in with an agency here are few tips which might help.
Before you begin…
It’s important to learn what makes a story – after all, a busy journalist will only respond to the best pitches they receive. That’s why an attention-grabbing headline and a catchy, well-written press release is essential to ensure your story breaks through.
But first, consider this: Is your story news or newsworthy?
“Is there a difference?” I hear you ask.
Firstly, news is just that – something new. This is exactly what journalists are looking for, the more current the story, the more likely it will see the light of day.
Never forget the point of a news story is to inform your audience; Creating a good news story needs to be presented in a way that will engage with the media channel’s audience either in print, online or broadcast. and to do that you need to pick out what it is about your story that the consumer/reader will find relevant or significant.
Apart from a revelation or major event like a merger, which on the face of it might affect a workforce and its many stakeholders, a good example of something that is newsworthy is a human-interest story. We see them all the time. These can quite often evoke emotion from the reader and can be just as powerful as a high-profile or shocking news piece. These stories tend to inspire as well as offer a great sense of community. Capt Tom who raised £33m (amount correct at time of publication) for the NHS is textbook. They often don’t date as quickly as topical news and that is what makes them of value to journalists as they have a longer shelf life.
Here are a couple of our clients’ examples:
- Herne Bay street sings Happy Birthday to grandad during lockdown
- 3D printer could change the way children’s heart surgery is performed in Southampton
Wait – don’t I know you?
If you want to give your event or story an extra oomph, think about including a VIP. Don’t worry, you don’t need to get a Kardashian sister! Significant members of the local community such as the local MP or Mayor can deliver just as well.
Why hire an agency?
I often equate hiring a PR agency to hiring an accountant, a lawyer or any other professional you care to mention. Sure, we can visit YouTube or Google and get tips on how to buy a house or run your company’s books. You might get there in the end but you’ll make mistakes (which could end up costing you money) and it’ll take you ages plus you’re bound to miss a few tricks of the trade.
The brutal reality is professionals have spent years training and live and breathe their trade every single day. So it is with PR. You might get lucky with a one-off. But a PR agency worth its sail – and reputation – delivers every day, day in day out.
It will also add flair – which you won’t have. Sorry! The best example I can give is one of our clients wrote to a number of celebrities for a signed quote to inspire their young recruits. Incredibly, the late Prof Stephen Hawking replied with not only a terrific quote but also instead of a signed photo, he sent a thumb print which was countersigned by his PA as being authentic. This was PR gold dust and yet our client hadn’t recognised it as such. In fact, it was mentioned to us is passing…
Needless to say, we got to work, and obtained worldwide exposure – which resulted in huge prestige and, arguably more importantly, new orders for our client. And, that as they say, is all there is to it!
By all means write your own release but, in truth, you might find it frustrating. Alternatively, you might get lucky – and all power to your elbow.
But help is at hand. At Lee Peck Media, we live and breathe the world of news and have a vast range of media contacts that can help get your business to the forefront of your target audiences’ minds.