In this week’s Collective Insights column, The Xfactor Collective specialist member Jodie Artis shares some media relations expert insights in this her 20th anniversary year helping social purpose organisations connect meaningfully with media.
The media landscape has changed dramatically in the last 10 years, making it more challenging than it has ever been to get traction.
A cluttered media landscape, with an abundance of blogs, email, TV on demand, reality shows and social media – all of which may in theory make it easier to be seen – in reality makes it more difficult than it’s ever been to be noticed.
“A feature story in the front few pages of a daily newspaper, will likely be picked up by breakfast and morning radio and then potentially hit the desk of evening television news services.”
The fact is that journalists receive hundreds of email pitches a day.
So, what exactly is the media looking for? How can you go about making sure you stand out from the crowd and get the spotlight you desire?
Follow these tips and you will be halfway there.
- Know who you are pitching to! The easiest way to offend a journalist is to pitch a story topic they do not cover. Take the time to view and read what they cover. Also take the time to nurture and grow these relationships as they will bear fruit for a long time.
- A bird in the hand. If you invest the time in crafting a well-thought-out, planned and researched story pitch to one journalist with the aim of a feature piece, you have the chance to be part of the news cycle of the day. For example, a feature story in the front few pages of a daily newspaper, will likely be picked up by breakfast and morning radio and then potentially hit the desk of evening television news services. What seems like one story only, can thrust your business onto a national news stage.
- Real people. Real stories. It sounds clichéd but people want to read good stories, that’s what will draw readers in. Too many organisations look for celebrity ambassadors as a way of generating media coverage. A real story, from a member of your community, bringing to life the work you do will resonate more with media and your target audience more than a gun for hire approach. A great case study will take you from interesting to exceptional.
- Nail your subject line / hook. How is your pitch going to stand out from the hundreds that journalists receive every single day? What will increase the chances of your pitch being opened and read? Is there a call to action, a news hook, a statistic or a local angle to include?
- Be relevant and authentic. Why are you talking to media? Just because you have an awareness week or a shave this, give up that month, doesn’t automatically get you media real estate. Are there events within this period of time you are commandeering – are you releasing new research, do you have public events or activations that make it relevant?
- Think of all the mediums in your planning. Each outlet needs something different – television needs footage of engaging activities, radio needs someone to tell a great story, newspapers need a great image. Do you have these assets to help media tell your story?
- Plan for the best and manage the worst. Go into your outreach thinking your story is going to be huge. Think of where it will get traction and plan for this. If you have a big print story run that gets media interest, do you have a spokesperson available to do an interview on radio? Is there a school, hospital, location available for TV to film your story? To miss these opportunities because success wasn’t planned or anticipated for would be a shame.
It is undeniable that media coverage is still a very valuable way to reach a large number of people in a short amount of time.
A bonus to this in our sector is that the policy shapers and decision makers consume the media every day – it is their mainline to public sentiment.
And if you want to get coverage, you have to make sure your pitch is well crafted, relevant and delivered to the right journalist.
Top Tips – When in doubt, use the Rule of W
- Who are you talking to? (Who is your audience? This will dictate the medium you use to communicate).
- What are you sharing with them? (What message are you trying to convey – what’s the call to action?).
- When do you want them to know about it? (Do they need lead time to book an event?).
- Where will they best find out about you (Facebook, newspaper, television news?).
- Why are you talking to them? (What’s in it for them? Why is it relevant?).
About the author: Jodie Artis is an experienced PR and media strategist and a foundation member of The Xfactor Collective. Artis specialises in delivering measurable campaigns for clients in the government and not-for-profit sectors.
Each week Pro Bono News and The Xfactor Collective present a Collective Insights column, answering common questions and challenges experienced by social changemakers. You are welcome to lodge questions for the column by emailing email@example.com
The Xfactor Collective is an Australian-first community where changemakers go for expert support and advice, including pre-vetted specialists across 100-plus areas of specialisation, specialist triage support services and a free video library.