Finding the Stories All Around You

Earn media coverage by looking around for stories that are interesting and shed light on what your organization stands for.Instead of griping about what the news media doesn't cover, be attentive to the stories all around you that underscore what your business, non-profit or public agency stands for.

Helping a local blood drive or contributing to a worthy cause are good things that build employee morale and pride, but usually won't earn any media coverage. Reporters, editors and bloggers are looking for stories with some sizzle.

  • A truck-driving school that trains an amputee who goes on to own and operate his own successful trucking company — opportunity for all.

  • How a rash of consumer complaints prompted a series of face-to-face meetings with company managers and designers that led to a completely revamped and much improved product — creative innovation.

  • An employee who is injured in a car accident, but still finds a way to deliver a critical part to a snow-removal crew preparing for bad weather conditions — service that goes the extra mile.

These are brand-building, reputation-enhancing stories that will attract media interest.

In this new world of marketing and PR, to borrow a phrase from David Meerman Scott, you don't have to wait for the media to come calling. You can publish your own stories — on your website, blog, online newsroom and social media platforms.

Heart-warming and intriguing stories attract online interest and generate buzz, which in turn can lead to coverage on well-read blogs and in traditional and new media outlets.

Your stories will have more pep if they have visual qualities, such as good images, video or a slideshow. Data shows these kinds of stories are shared more often and pique interest.

Because reporters at major news outlets are stretched thin these days, it helps to flesh out your story. Give the reporter the names of people who can verify your facts or provide context. Make the reporter's job easier with good pictures, contact information and useful links.

What makes news is and always will be a subjective judgment. So if you pitch your story, make sure to cast it in its best light, not as a thinly veiled free ad. The more your story smells like a commercial, the more likely it will be tossed in the garbage.

Some stories aren't suitable for general news coverage, but work well as fodder for a columnist, so do your homework on the best reporter or blogger to pitch. This is where professional PR people can help. They have a good sense of what will fly and who to contact.

Remember, you won't always score on your story pitches. But suggesting good ideas for stories to reporters and bloggers is a great way to build a relationship. You may be pleasantly surprised at the results.