There’s an old saying in journalism that you should never let the facts get in the way of a good story.
As we’ve said before, in an era of fake news, political spin and even downright lies, misleading your audience by not telling the whole truth can do more harm than good.
That said, when it comes to telling your story, sometimes focusing your efforts on bringing out what lies beneath the facts can pay dividends.
Your readers are, after all, only human, and will tend to relate to something on an emotional level rather than a rational one.
This often means that media stories which are in the public interest get overlooked, while stories that are interesting to the public get read.
So, if you can strike the right balance between both, it’s a win.
Telling your story the right way
In the simplest of terms, every story you push out about your business should include the five Ws – who you are, what you’re doing, where and when you’re doing it and, crucially, why.
If you’ve got these five things covered, hopefully you’ll have the makings of a narrative that you can begin to push among your media contacts.
However, although the five Ws are important, there’s something more at play than simply recycling the facts that will make your story seem attractive to journalists, editors, bloggers and writers, and make them want to cover it.
There are three other elements you should keep in mind when it comes to trying to sell your story to the media:
In PR, timing is everything. If there is a specific event or annual occurrence in your sector, timing your announcement around it and trying to tie it in can help secure coverage for your story.
Likewise, if there is a breaking industry news issue that you want to offer comment on, then you should strike while the iron is hot.
A well-timed release can often be the difference between your story getting covered or getting spiked. If it ties in with what’s going on in your industry – or in the world at large – at any given time, it stands a good chance.
The world moves quickly and so does the media, so make sure you plan ahead, react quickly and don’t miss the boat.
News, by definition, is ‘new’ information. So, you need to make sure that you’re not simply rehashing old information and presenting it as news in the hope of getting it published, and you also need to make sure that what you’re saying is of relevance to the people you are targeting with it.
How does your product, for example, differ from anything else on the market? Is your opinion on a certain industry issue unique? Does it move the story or debate along any?
If what you’re putting out there isn’t offering a new angle or fresh perspective, then it’s time to think about how you can reposition it so you can contribute to the story or discussion in a different way.
Journalists, regardless of the sector, are busy people. They receive hundreds of emails and press releases a week and most of them look the same:
“Here’s our new product, it does X, Y and Z…”
“Here’s our new service, it’s the best in the business…”
“We’re company x, we’re an industry leader and the biggest in our sector, but we’ve not really got anything else to say…”
Most of them end up in the recycle bin without getting read.
There’s nothing wrong with promoting your new product or service, but the trick is to talk about it in a way that people will find interesting.
Remember, people – whether that’s journalists, clients or consumers – usually relate to things first on an emotional level rather than a rational one.
So, don’t hit them with the facts first.
Lead with a clever headline, a quirky anecdote or an interesting nugget of information to hook them in, you can talk them through the drier stuff later.
Good PR is about more than just having great stories to tell, it’s about telling them in the right way.
While having a long-term plan in place, which looks at who to target and when to target them, is important, thinking like a journalist and pitching your news in the right way is what gets the results.
Purpose Media’s PR and content team has many years’ experience in dealing with the media and securing great press coverage for our clients on a regular basis.
We’ve manned busy newsdesks and press offices and delivered in-house strategies for agencies.
We understand the demands of the media, have built strong relations and know how to ensure your stories get heard time and again.