Stings, doesn’t it? It is easy to wade into the murky new world of media with high expectations – in reality, very few news stories actually make their way to print. Surely some disappointment is inevitable, yet we may never fully understand the reasons behind rejections from journalists or reporters.
Let’s take a closer look at your pitch. You’ve checked at least three times for grammar mistakes and erroneous figures. Being the professional that you are, you would have already conducted a thorough research on the publication and journalist you are targeting. Your subject line is perfectly succinct as is the core of your pitch. Bravo, well done!
Perhaps the problem lies elsewhere. More often than not, we get so carried away with the delivery that we overlook the story. Top-notch pitching and communication skills do not necessarily render your story newsworthy: Understand the importance of being able to distance yourself from your news content – this allows you to evaluate the story objectively. Are you convinced that it is newsworthy in the first place?
Losing credibility as a reliable provider of news stories can be very damaging and deprive you of future opportunities. Rid yourself of the nagging fear that journalists who turned you down might just be right – make sure that your next attempt at a press release or a media pitch incorporates the following elements of a newsworthy media story!
“BANG!” or “…bang?”
Assess the potential impact of your story. Will your content affect everyone – or does it lead to a dramatic change in the lives of a niche audience of any type? Quite naturally, the editor will decline to publish your story if it is of little importance or has nothing to do with the vast majority of readers.
Out with the Old
News has to be, well, new. Keep your content as current as possible instead of dredging up dated information desperately in hopes of getting some press coverage. Has anything refreshingly novel or unexpected happened recently? That may be a good place to start.
Timeliness is of the essence. With the ready availability of sources these days, members of the public are hungry for information and demand instant gratification. Don’t hinder your chances of getting media coverage by delaying your press release.
Near and Dear – Proximity is Key
Will your audience relate to your story with ease? Presenting happenings that are taking place here is more likely to captivate the attention of those who share the same context in which your story unfolds. The opposite applies as well – people will be less interested to know about the unravelling of events that occurs across geographical borders.
The Art of Self Promotion
One basic rule is to avoid blatantly promotional content. Feeling sandwiched between your client and the media is an experience deeply shared by many others in the PR industry; on the other hand, you may wish to utilize the quotes within your story wisely such that it offers ample opportunities for your client’s company to shine.
Ultimately, the simplest advice that we can give is to put yourself in the shoes of a journalist or an editor. If you were a representative of the particular publication, would you be interested in publicizing the story you’re about to release? If the answer is no, embark on a second, or even a third attempt, to craft a story pitch or press release that can spark interest among the public.
A keen judgment of newsworthiness can be honed with time and practice. You can develop an instinct for newsworthy stories through regular observation of what trade publications, relevant magazines and newspapers consider as news. Sieving through countless possibilities to arrive at the news story with the most potential (that best serves the interests of your client!) is part and parcel of excelling in the PR industry.
By Cho Yi Ting, PR Associate @ Corporate Media Services