So how do businesses claim editorial space and get media coverage?
Through diligence, cunning, making time, careful cultivation and, above all, understanding what business editors seek. And this is how to get your story in the media…
1 Think like a journalist. To get media coverage you need to develop a news sense. Your story is one of hundreds daily competing for space so it had better be good.
As my old friend, Ron Godfrey, a regional business editor for over 2 decades, put it to me: “It’s the glass leg factor.
“Simply saying that you’re a widget maker is no story. But if you’re a widget maker with a glass leg? Now that’s a story.
“No one suggests an amputation but we all have metaphorical glass legs. You just have to find them.” Use this post from Media College to judge whether a story is newsworthy.
To get media coverage, patiently cultivate a friendship with your regional journalist (take him or her out to lunch and wow with your widget!). Find out what he or she really wants. For instance there will always be a place for a paragraph or two announcing a doubling of your turnover; a sudden spurt in staff numbers; a big order; an expansion of product range; a new export strategy etc.
2 Think laterally. Just accept that perhaps your product may never make headlines, but YOU might. Business pages often carry regular profiles of business men and women. Suddenly, the fact that in 2012 you were declared the regional tiddlywink/table tennis/chess champion gives your new firm a lot more gloss. It is run by a person who strives to excel and win. Good copy.
3 Watch the news. Keep an eye on how your industry is changing for the good or bad and formulate your stance. To get media coverage gather three like-minded bosses in your industry for a mutual moan in public. If fuel prices start soaring again, send your Cassandra-like chorus of doom to your journalist contact, who will welcome it in an article on the worrying trend. Prepare in advance for Government Budgets – tailor-made opportunities for an authoritative moan. Your view alone is not a story Can’t find moaning soulmates? Then use this ‘how to guide’ and resort to the letters column.
4 Think picture. An image tells 1,000 words and business editors are starved of impact pictures. Remember to take your camera with you, especially on that widget sales drive in Africa. It could be the stuff of a fascinating centre spread.
Posed line-ups of all your directors to avoid hurt feelings are a no-no. Readers won’t care about who is in the frame and therefore nor will the journalist. So keep the picture simple – one or two people in it at the most – and let the image tell the story.
5 Employ a PR? You may decide not to be skinflint and invest in a PR company. But if you do, ensure that their staff are mainly ex-journos who understand the technical needs of the media and can eke out and write a genuine good story with accuracy, brevity and impact. But be warned: Most of the hundreds of emails daily trashed by journalists come from PR companies.
Key Learning Points: To get media coverage, get to know media business editors, find out what they want and sock it to ‘em. We all have metaphorical “glass legs”. What’s yours? Think laterally. Recognise your news stories and ensure that journalists keep pace with key progress points in your organisation’s journey.