Posted by David Oates 5 years, 1 month ago

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Before you start outreach in an attempt to get a reporter to cover your company or story, strat by puting yourself in their shoes. The media has two groups to please: their audience and their advertisers. Reporters/producers cover stories that offer something of value to their audience - if your story or tip is not something of valuable, they will most likley tell you to buy an advertsiment. So how do you know if what you are offering them (be it an expert source, story idea, news tip, etc.) is of value? Like Chevy Chase in Caddyshack said, “be the ball.” But in this case, “be the reporter.” Here are some tips to do exactly that.

1. Consume. Consume. Consume.

There is no such thing as reading too much news. Understanding how reporters write, including what headlines they use, what type of people they are quoting and what visuals support their story, are all important components to a well rounded story idea and pitch. When you read news, especially articles in the same industry (as yourself or a client), you are conditioning your brain to think like a reporter. You can even try following the news from the media you are trying to reach and writing down the headlines or teasers. Then write down a couple for the important components/facts of the story. This will help you think more like an journalist and develop new ways to position your story idea.

2. Ask the right questions.

When developing a story idea, or ways to angle your story, ask yourself, “who the hell cares?” It might be harsh, but no one wants to write a story that his or her audience is not interested in, or is trying to sell them something. If you were the reporter with the sole purpose of pleasing your readers, would they care about this? Why is this story important and is it timely? Has someone already covered the story? Can you offer a credible source? Can you consolidate your idea into a quick pitch (no more than four sentences) or tweet?

These are all questions that will help you uncover whether or not this is a good story to pitch, and help provide a check to make sure you have all the pieces in place.


3. Use your left-brain more.

Work the left side of your brain to develop creative story ideas and use your right brain’s logic to back it up. Creative thinking is a crucial element to crafting a compelling story idea. It might be an angle that has not been approached before, or coming up with a cool visual that might help captivate a TV producers attention. Make sure you are engaging in activities or exercises that give the left-brain fuel whether it is something you do regularly in a team meeting, or something spontaneous.

Whether you are a PR pro, or a company attempting some PR on your own, you need to constantly be thinking like a reporter when it comes to pitching your story. Remind yourself of these simple steps and take your PR-reporter brain to the next level.

Check out this clip for some “be the ball” inspiration.

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