Choosing Your Angle or “Hook”

What is Your Media

If you want the news media to write about you, you have to give them what they want:

Something that’s going to make them look good to their audience.

This means you can’t just send a blogger or reporter a blatant sales pitch for your product or business and expect them to cover you. (If you are wondering how to find a media or a niche journalist, read my previous article; Finding The Right Media Outlets To Write About Your Business).

Make it about them instead by creating an interesting story around your product or business that would appeal to your media contact’s audience. This is your angle, story idea or “hook”, and it’s how you get media coverage.

According to Public Relations expert Ben Kaplan, there are four main types of news angles you can use to create great hooks that will get reporters and bloggers interested:

­ Breaking

­ Seasonal

­ Trend

­ Personal Interest

Let’s look at an example of each one:

Breaking ­News Stories

This is a major news story that’s just happened or is ongoing, such as a weather event, an announcement by the President, or a celebrity awards show like the Oscars or MTV Awards. You can piggyback on breaking news by tying a story about your business to the event.

For example, as I write this, a major story in the news is that Sony Pictures was recently hacked and had many confidential emails stolen and distributed online, exposing private communications between movie executives, directors and other major players in Hollywood. How could you piggyback on this story if you specialize in offering marketing consulting to small businesses? Well, small businesses can be vulnerable to hackers stealing information just like Hollywood studios can. Your hook could be a short list of ways that small businesses can protect themselves from getting hacked like Sony did, and you could pitch it to blogs and news outlets that reach small business owners as well as to local media. Of course, you can mention that you help small businesses with their online marketing and other issues like keeping their website secure.

The key with creating a hook and story to pitch to the media is that you pitch them on the idea of the story, not your business. In the example above, the story you’re pitching is about how small businesses can protect themselves from hackers, but you just happen to specialize in helping small businesses secure their sites to keep their data safe.

One other thing to note: If you choose to use a breaking news story as your hook, be sure to do so in a way that’s tasteful. You don’t want to tie your story to a breaking news story about something tragic that happened in a way that makes it look like you’re being exploitative or trying to profit off the tragedy of others.

Seasonal

Seasonal news covers topics like holidays, summer vacations and other topics that tend to get covered at certain times of the year. Again, let’s use our small business marketing company example. If Christmas is coming up, you could create a seasonal hook for a story involving a small business marketing company could be pitching an article about how small businesses can use Facebook or Twitter to attract more Christmas shoppers.

Trend

Trend news covers trends that are new or unusual. These could either be general trends or trends specific to your industry. A trend that’s popular right now is the growth of mobile apps, and keeping with the same example of marketing consulting for small businesses, you could create a story hook around showing how small businesses can benefit from using mobile apps in their business, and of course, your business just so happens to be able to help them with that.

Personal Interest ­

People love reading stories about other people, especially their struggles or things they had to overcome, and journalists know this. By framing the story of your business or product as a personal story that other business owners can relate to, you increase the odds that journalists will want to write about you.

Sticking with our same example of consulting small businesses, a hook using the personal interest approach could be “10 Things Being A College Dropout Taught Me About Business”, and the story idea you pitch would focus on your experiences after you dropped out of college and tried to start a business, including your successes and challenges. Of course, you’ll also mention that you use the things you’ve learned along the way in order help other small businesses become more successful.

Obviously the specific hook you use will depend on the type of business or product you have, and I can’t cover all possible hooks you could use, but these are four hooks that are proven to work, and it’s easy to create a short story idea that integrates your business or product into the story as well.

You want to take the hook you create and write a brief pitch for a news story based around that hook. This pitch is what you’re going to send to the bloggers and journalists you reach out to. I’ll talk more about this later in the report, and if you’re not familiar with writing content like pitches, blog posts, and articles,

Once you have your hook, it’s time to put together a press kit so that journalists or bloggers will be able to quickly get all the relevant information about your company or product.