By: Susan Finco, President, Leonard & Finco Public Relations, Inc.
Every now and then, we’re contacted by someone who is frustrated by their inability to generate media coverage. Oftentimes they are at a point where they realize they need professional expertise to get their story told. But sometimes they’re simply looking to us to “fix it.” Their first question usually is: “Why won’t the media cover our stories?” As someone who was a journalist in a former life, and as someone who now makes a living (in part) through media relations, the answer generally falls into one or more of these answers:
It’s not newsworthy. Is it something new or different; something people want to know about or should know about; is it a trend or a human interest story? Make sure your story is truly newsworthy. If you’re not sure, it’s probably not.
It’s not interesting. Slightly different from “it’s not newsworthy.” Why should the journalist (or his/her readers) care? It may be important to your firm or organization, but it might not be interesting to others. Is there a way to make it interesting? Maybe. We’ll need to talk and find out more.
It doesn’t grab their attention in the headline or first few sentences. Let’s face it, everyone is extremely busy these days and getting bombarded from every angle. If you don’t grab a reporter’s attention right away, you’re in trouble.
It doesn’t relate to their area of focus / interests. Know your reporters and media outlets (traditional and social). Don’t waste their time, and yours, by sending a pitch about a company’s environmental efforts to the religious reporter. I’ve seen things like that happen.
Information is missing. Go back to the basics whether you’re pitching a story, writing a release or calling a reporter. Include who, what, where, when, how and why along with a dateline, locator and contact information. Contact info should include after hours numbers, email, social media addresses, etc. Don’t forget to double check dates, times, addresses and phone numbers. Yes, it’s a reporter’s job to find out more about a story, but if you don’t give them the basics, they might not bother to look up the information.
It’s poorly written. Make it a policy to have at least one other person you work with check items going to reporters / media outlets. Go beyond a simple grammar check. Have them check for content, interest level, etc.
Of course, there are other reasons some routinely strike out with their media relations efforts. What would you add to this list?