(Third in a series)
The first thing you need to know about pitching your story ideas to the media is that just because you’re interested in a topic (your business), that doesn’t make it newsworthy to the media. You’ve got to find a compelling “angle” for your story, or it will never get ink.
Does your idea fit any of these categories?
- A unique service or product;
- The first, the biggest, the most or least expensive;
- A “comeback” or overcoming adversity story;
- A connection with an upcoming holiday;
- A local angle on a national story or trend;
- The solution to a common problem;
- A humorous or entertaining situation;
- A historical perspective, particularly with a local connection.
- An informative or educational story.
This is far from an exhaustive list, but it’s important to consider your story idea from the perspective of the reader or viewer and ask “why would anybody but me (and my family and friends) care about this?” Be aware: it is not the media’s job to promote your business.
You should also ask publications for their editorial calendars. This provides helpful insight into what the newspaper or magazine will be featuring at various times during the year. If you own a wedding planning business, for example, and you discover that a city magazine’s March issue is dedicated to the bridal industry, your chance of interesting the editor in “Ten Tips for a Stress-Proof Wedding” just increased significantly.
Once you have reviewed all the editorial calendars of the targeted publications, considered upcoming holidays and brainstormed all possible angles, develop a calendar that will allow you to plan your pitches for a year in advance. When you are targeting a specific issue or holiday, consider that magazines – including local ones – work many months in advance. Even newspapers need weeks for “enterprise” stories, or stories that are not breaking news, especially now that newsrooms are staffed much leaner than in previous years.
It’s important to think through your story idea carefully before engaging the media so that your idea has the best possible chance of hitting pay dirt. Thinking like a reporter – rather than the business owner – is the best way to do this.
(Next: Contacting and pitching the media.)