story pitches

Ringing in New Year of Media Relations

Media relations hasn't disappeared, but it is evolving along with media itself, requiring successful story pitchers to be nimble, adaptive and creative.Media relations hasn't gone away, but it has changed as media has multiplied and evolved. There are more outlets to monitor and pitch, including your own self-publication platform.

Even the press release has managed to survive in a faster-paced, highly segmented media world, but it also has assumed new shapes and purposes.

The overlapping crazes of social media and content marketing have lost some momentum here and there, but they also are adapting and adjusting.

So the key is not to arrange eulogies for positions and tactics. Instead, be alert for change and learn how to capitalize on new circumstances. Most important, concentrate of delivering quality, useful information with sharp story hooks, which remains the hallmark of attracting media attention

Finding the Stories All Around You

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.

Helping Reporters Do Their Job

Fewer reporters in newsrooms creates an opportunity to shop more complete story pitches. That requires creativity and integrity from PR professionals.Shrinking newsrooms make it tougher to pitch story ideas, but it also puts a premium on PR enterprise to outline a great story idea that is easy to follow by a stretched-thin reporter.

"If you can sketch a story and help a reporter fill in the blanks, you are well on your way to a successful pitch in today's evolving media environment," says CFM Account Executive Hannah Smith.

At a minimum, most newsrooms are looking for more than just words on a page.

"They want images, video, contacts and any relevant context," Smith says. "In short, they want help with their homework." This includes finding credible people who use products or are affected by policy decisions for reporters to interview.

This kind of scripted journalism requires PR professionals and anyone else pitching stories to keep their integrity front and foremost. "If you steer a reporter into a ditch or blindside them," Smith says, "don't be surprised if you find them unwilling to work with you on your next pitch."