In the movies, journalists are tough, cynical souls who are curmudgeonly guardians of truth. In 21st-century real life, journalists are hard-working professionals who have more and more demands to produce news content with fewer and fewer resources.
Employment in journalism has fallen by more than 30,000 in the last dozen years. At the same time, the volume of stories that must be produced has grown exponentially (social media updates, breaking website stories, email alerts, etc., plus the content that feeds the traditional daily news cycles).
To put it another way, journalists have never needed your help more to do their jobs. This means a good media relations effort is an important way for you and your organization to make news – and help generate awareness, interest and action that helps your organization achieve its goals.
Getting started is easier than you might think. Here are ten tips to get your organization in the news:
- Remember to appropriately publicize all new contracts, hirings, awards, etc. with local business media (daily papers, business journals and online media).
- Remember to publicize all professional organization appearances, public speeches and other events of broad public interest to local business media and other media that might be interested.
- This is most important: they call it media relations because it’s about RELATIONSHIPS. Get to know local journalists who cover your industry. Meet them at events. Invite them to lunch. Offer them a background briefing on your industry with no strings attached. It’s easy. Look them up on the publication’s website — you’ll find phone numbers and e-mail addresses. Search company names or keywords to find out who might cover your industry.
- Look for opportunities to appear in print or online media in news sections or columns that are hard for journalists to fill. Some examples:
- Personal investing columns in local business journals.
- Q&A columns in personnel announcement sections of daily papers that highlight promotions or new jobs.
- First-person stories on how you and your organization overcame a challenge.
- International or national stories that directly affect your business or organization.
- Write it yourself! Business journals, daily papers and certainly online news sites often run columns written by business leaders. Columns must be topical and not promotional of your organization. Contact the top business editor at each outlet for more information.
- Read the Wall Street Journal, identify an interesting trend in your business and localize it for your company, then call one of the business editors to suggest a local version of the trend story. Example: Gift cards during the holiday season.
- Look for seasonal tie-ins that beg for a trend story. Examples:
- If you are in a health-related business, the Affordable Care Act changes everything. How does your organization fit into the bigger picture?
- If you are in a retail business, look for opportunities to feature what you’re doing for the next upcoming holiday (not just Christmas, but St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Fourth of July, Halloween, etc.). Again, it’s got to be a trend story, not something that’s simply promotional about your business alone.
- Look for “man bites dog” stories. By its very definition, anything that’s NOT ordinary is news. Example: It’s tax season. What if you are an accountant (“tax doctor”) who makes house calls? What if your business offers free back rubs for people stressed out by doing their taxes? Batteries for calculators? Erasers? Use your imagination.
- Think people. Great stories always begin with people. Business milestones (anniversaries, birthdays, etc.) are inherently boring and won’t get any coverage. Put people in there and BOOM — everything changes. A friend of mine, while in hospital PR years ago, decided to hold a birthday party for all the babies born in the maternity ward of her hospital over its 100-year history. There were special prizes for the oldest “baby” and the newest. Did the media cover it? Of course! All the way up to Good Morning America.
- Finally, be persistent. Wayne Gretzky, once asked why he was hockey’s greatest goal scorer, supposedly shrugged and said, “I don’t know. All I know is 100 percent of the shots I don’t take, don’t go in the net.” It’s the same with media relations. The more you try, the better the relationships you develop, the better you understand what journalists want, and the greater success you will have in “scoring” a story.
Want some help coming up with good story ideas about your organization? Download our free story brainstorming tool.
This post originally appeared on the WordWrite storytelling blog.