Do you have a great idea for a story, but no clue how to get it in the news? Are you tired of pitching press releases the news media simply ignores? If so here are some tips on how to get noticed.
1) Be Unusual
The old adage about “Man bites dog” still holds true. The news doesn’t cover what’s normal. It covers the abnormal.
PR whiz Carolyn Alvey knew this when she was trying to raise money for a charity several years ago. Instead of holding a garage sale, she sent out a press release announcing a “Celebrity Garage Sale.” Everything from Bob Hope’s old golf clubs to Roger Staubach’s long-neglected neckties were for sale. By making an ordinary garage sale extraordinary, the media was instantly sold on the story.
2) Be Visual
Reporters tell stories with pictures. If the pictures aren’t there, chances are the reporters won’t be either.
3) Choose the Right Reporter
Perhaps the most common mistake even some PR pros make is trying to sell a good story to the wrong person. Most reporters have a specialty, like “crime” or “business.”
So, seek out the reporter who will have the most to benefit from your story. Start studying the news. Before you call a TV station or try and pitch the paper, become familiar with a reporter’s work. Don’t try and sell an investigative story to a reporter who covers entertainment.
4) Write Like a Reporter
Why is this so important? A major market newsroom gets thousands of press releases every day. Often the decision on whether to cover your story is made in a matter of seconds. Many times that well-crafted sentence in the third paragraph of your press release is never read.
5) Wait For A Slow News
The holidays are the slowest “news times” of the year. When government offices are closed, so are most of our sources. Take advantage of it. In fact, take out your calendar and begin circling government holidays. If the government isn’t making news, we reporters are scrambling to find something to cover. Pitch even an average story on a day when the media is starving for news, and you’re much more likely to get coverage.
There you go. Now you’re armed with knowledge that even some well-paid public relations professionals don’t practice. If your idea is unique, visual, and pitched to the right person when the supply of news is running thin, you’re in!