This post originally ran on Dbusiness.com.
On a daily basis, PR professionals decide which story ideas to share with media, when to pull the trigger and which publication/reporter would make the most sense for the angle. Appropriately acting on these issues is the difference between your story or client hitting in the media or becoming the PR pro who always annoys media.
Here are some simple things to consider to avoid the latter:
- Timeliness. Is the story you’re sharing relevant in the moment? Is it a hot button issue that reporters will want to write about and readers will need to digest? If so, you’re off to a great start.
- Audience & appeal. If you’re looking to place a bylined article in a specialized trade publication (e.g. Modern Healthcare), a proposed topic should be very specific and should appeal directly to the publication’s readership.
If you’re reaching out to the editor of a business publication, it will be critical to find the business angle. Ask yourself “how could a business owner/operator benefit or learn from this topic” or “what value/insight am I providing to the business audience?” If you can’t find a solid answer to either question, the odds are it isn’t a fit.
Lastly, when reaching out to a daily newspaper, website, etc., the subject matter will have to appeal to an extremely broad audience. The inner-workings of a hospital administration team, for example, probably won’t make the cut. Think of what the average Joe with a cup of coffee and the Sunday paper would want to read, and see if you can make your topic a fit!
- Background check. Take the time to research the reporter you’re considering contacting. Don’t hang your hat on what the “Contact us” page says a reporter covers—do a few searches and read some recent articles. If you take the time to do the due diligence before blasting out a million emails, it will be far easier to get in front of the appropriate media contact.
- Short & sweet. Now more than ever, editors and reporters are incredibly busy. They’re covering more beats with tighter deadlines, and to top it off, there is added pressure to maintain a Web presence through blogging, tweeting and the like. Though this doesn’t directly pertain to finding a newsworthy angle, it is applicable across the board. Even the best story can be overlooked if you ramble on for two pages.
In any reporter communication, brevity goes a long way. Communicate your story idea in a concise fashion (don’t be afraid of bullet points!), tell them why it would matter to the readership and briefly describe the credentials of the source you’re proposing (what makes him/her an expert in the given area?). Be friendly, of course! Simply remain cognizant and respectful of the tight schedules around which you’re working.
There you have it—four simple best practices to keep in mind when working with the media! What other suggestions do you have?