How to Interest the News Media in Your Company's Story
Take a moment to study this lead paragraph from a story by reporter Marilyn Adams, found on the front of a recent USA Today MONEY section:
"Independence Air, the first low-fare airline to launch with 50-seat jets, began selling tickets Wednesday for flights to and from Washington, setting off a fare war."
Here's a story that touches on all four elements of news: Change, conflict, aberration and problem. Every good news story has all four of these elements.
There is change, because Independence Air is launching its services.
There is conflict, because the launch is "setting off a fare war."
There is aberration, because the company is "the first low-fare airline to launch with 50-seat jets."
And there is problem, in that Independence Air is seeking to solve a problem: the high cost of air travel for Americans who live in smaller towns.
If you want to get a reporter's attention, and to give him the tools the needs to sell the story to his editor, you must offer a story that includes a change, a conflict, an aberration and a problem.
Here's an approach that has worked for me for years.
Start with a yellow legal pad. Choose four pages and headline each with a different element. Then think through your story, looking for changes, conflicts, aberrations and problems. Don't be overly critical at this point. Just write down as many as you can identify.
You can do this alone or in a group. Groups are useful because other folks may see elements of the story that you are missing. If you use a group to brainstorm, you may want to use a presentation pad on an easel instead of a legal pad, just so everyone can see what you are writing down.
Once you've exhausted your ideas, choose the best item from each list. Look for a theme that ties them together.
For example, the Independence Air elements could all fall under the theme of "upstart airline takes on the Big Boys by focusing on small cities." A strong, one-sentence theme allows the reporter to focus on the story you want to tell.
When you have your final list and your theme, then you are ready to write a news release. Better yet, write a news proposal, and offer the story as an exclusive to an industry reporter.
Rusty Cawley is a 20-year veteran journalist who now coaches executives, professionals and entrepreneurs on news strategy. He is the author of "PR Rainmaker: Three Simple Rules for Using the News Media to Attract New Customers and Clients," available at amazon.com. To learn more about PR Rainmaking, visit https://www.prrainmaker.com/dailyblog.html.
By Rusty Cawley
Copyright 2004 by W.O. Cawley Jr.