Ever wonder why the business down the street is always in the newspaper or on the radio and your business isn’t? I’m not referring to the advertising they may have purchased…..I’m referring to the news story featuring their business or some other on-air recognition they’ve received.
You may say they’re just lucky, but chances are, they’ve learned what makes them, or their business, newsworthy. And they’ve taken the time to let reporters know about it – usually in the form of a media release.
Now it’s your turn.
There are five key elements that journalists refer to when deciding whether to cover a story or not. The more of these elements you include in a press release or in an email to a reporter, the better your chances of having your business featured in the news. I’m going to detail them first and then provide an example to tie it all together.
First, is your idea timely? Essentially, is it new? No one likes old news. If it happened two months ago, no one cares.
Second, what is the proximity of your story idea? As with most small businesses, you’re probably looking for attention from the local media – unless your story idea is provincial or national in scope (would be nice). Journalists usually prefer to cover local events and activities.
Third, is the story idea relevant? Is there something your business does that relates to something else going on in the news? Or does your business provide seasonal services like yard cleaning? You may be able to create a story idea based on current trends or issues.
Fourth, is the story full of controversy? As sad as it sounds, journalists (and the public) love conflict and controversy. This can be a positive for your business in certain situations, but often media attention in this category comes during a time of crisis.
Fifth, does your idea have an element of human interest? Yes, we love controversy, but we also love stories of triumph and events that restore our faith in humanity. If you’re doing something extra special, you should tell people about it.
Now for an example.
Lets say you own a local restaurant and you’ve decided to set aside one night during the holiday season to feed a group of people staying at a local shelter. Telling the media about an event like this is timely (new), has proximity (local), is relevant (holiday season) and includes an element of human interest (doing a good deed).
Sure, you could always pay to have your business featured in the newspaper or on the radio. But there’s nothing like free publicity!