One of the first things you discuss as a journalism student or newbie journalist is ‘what makes a good story?’ Something that public relations professionals also face on a daily basis.
Sometimes your client thinks they have a great story, but really it’s just the promotion of a new service or product – and you’re the one that has to tell them it’s a no go. On the other hand, clients, who understandably are busy in their day job, often miss the signs of a great story – so it’s your job to seek out the good stories by asking the right questions and staying abreast of the issues.
If you know you have a good story, you must now consider whose interest it will pique. Is it a news story? Does this have feature written all over it? Do you need to speak to the sports editor? Is there a special section of the newspaper or magazine where your client’s story will feature more prominently? Is there a radio program that features topics such as this? Is there room for an interview? Could you organize or offer photos to accompany the story? If you find the right slot for your client’s story and the editor or journalist bites then you’re golden.
Another thing to consider is timing. Sometimes it’s worth holding onto a good story, which will gain increased traction at a certain time of the year or on a certain date.
I talk about the need for corporate social responsibility often, however, when it comes to the media, this market is becoming saturated so you need to look at alternative ways to gain exposure for your clients. I have turned to blogs and online newsletters where I know I have a decent story to tell for my client, but at the same time know that I’m almost certainly wasting my time and my client’s money when it comes to the daily newspaper.
I’d also consider, in this day of 24-hour news, how your story will play out online – including social media – and at what time of day you might want to release it to the media – if you know they will want to run with it a.s.a.p.
Also, do you want to provide an exclusive to ensure coverage versus a blanket approach? This may not gain the exposure you were hoping for.
And finally, if you’re approaching an editor or journalist make sure you can quickly and easily provide them with a synopsis of the story and/or the who, what, when, where, why and how. Oh, and don’t pitch to them as they are approaching deadline wait until they have time to listen to your idea.