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Want press coverage? You’d better get creative.

By: Tami Brehse Tuesday April 19, 2016 comments

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It’s probably the most common thing a new client will say to me.

I want the media to cover my business.

Actually, it’s usually more like this.

I want the New York Times to cover my business.

At that point, I can’t help but get a little sassy. Who doesn’t want to be in the New York Times? And what did your business do to deserve that kind of coverage?

It’s a tough question for many business owners, who are like parents, and their business is their child. Their child is wonderful and deserves recognition for getting an A, for learning to cartwheel, for sharing his toys.

Except it’s a business, not a child, and the media doesn’t work that way.

You want press coverage? You’ve got to do something worthy of coverage. In this post I’ll give you actionable steps to get news coverage for your business.

I. Newsworthiness
II. Story Ideation
III. Free Worksheet
IV. Picking the Outlet

Freebie Alert!

Get my free story ideation printable to help you work through the steps in this post. Get it now by visiting the original post.

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In order to understand how to get your business in the headlines, you’ve first got to know what makes headlines in the first place.

Journalists don’t just write about whatever they want, willy-nilly (although sometimes it certainly seems like it).

You’d better believe there’s a clear strategy behind every story they cover.

They cover what gets clicks. They cover what sells newspapers. They cover what makes people hold off from changing the channel just a little longer.

In general, the media covers stories that fit one or more of these criteria:

1. Timeliness


It’s called news for a reason.

I’m always trying to help clients understand that many times, it’s not the best or the most deserving pitch that receives coverage—it’s whoever pitches it first.

When you have a potential story, move on it! Don’t sit on it for longer than 24 hours–48 hours max.

If something happened more than a week ago—unless you’re pitching to a long-lead outlet, like a magazine—don’t even bother pitching it.

You can also pitch timely stories surrounding major events, like holidays.

2. Impact

Meat recall

Does it affect a lot of people?

There’s a reason consumer recalls always make the headlines, no matter how mundane. They affect millionsof people nationwide.

Part of the key to getting coverage for your business is to make the story applicable to a wide audience. Why should people care about what you’re doing?

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3. Proximity

county fair

This one should be a no-brainer.

When you pick up the local paper, you expect to read about things that happened within your localcommunity. When you turn on CNN, on the other hand, you expect to see stories that affect a nationalaudience.

The proximity of your story should match the outlet you’re pitching.

Local outlet = story with local impact.

National outlet = story with national impact.

This should help you understand why the New York Times doesn’t print any old story. It has to have relevance to a national audience.

But wait! People will always say to me.

Then they proceed to send me a clipping of Farmer Joe from Kentucky who made the front page of USA Today. Which brings me to our next point…

4. Novelty

Internet cat videos for the win.

If something is rare, unusual, intriguing, hilarious or tragic, there’s a much greater chance of it being covered, perhaps even on a national level.

Farmer Joe we just talked about a moment ago? He was probably covered in USA Today for growing a 568 pound pumpkin.

Novelty, my friends.

5. Prominence

Just like us

If you or I get a speeding ticket, we’re pissed off all day. If the pope gets a speeding ticket, it’s international news.

The actions of prominent figures, like celebrities, athletes, musicians, politicians, and yes, unfortunately, the Kardashians, are of high interest and are therefore considered newsworthy.

If you can tie an event or cause to a prominent figure, you’ve got a shot at getting some coverage.

6. Conflict

AKA the reason reality TV exists.

People love conflict—reading about it, hearing about it and watching it.

This is typically the type of news angle you want to avoid as a business owner, but there are some ways, when done carefully, you can even make conflict work for you. Read on for an example.

Visit the original post to learn more about how you can put these story aspects to work for your business

Picking the Outlet

There’s one thing you may have noticed about all of the story ideas mentioned in this post. Not all of them will be relevant to all media outlets. That’s where the next step comes in. It’s time to decide where to pitch them.

Some will be obvious, like pitching the tax rate story to the city reporter at the local paper. Be sure to find the person who covers that beat regularly.

Some will be not so obvious, like the crazy hot dog flavored cookie idea I mentioned above. Sure, you can pitch that to a feature reporter for the newspaper or the local TV station. But you can also think bigger.

Buzzfeed. Mashable. Thrillist. Huffington Post.

I could see any of these outlets running a blurb on your Oscar-Mayer-infused baked good.

That’s the beauty of the Internet—there’s an outlet out there for nearly everything. You’ve just gotta be tuned-in and creative enough to find them.

When you start to think of your PR strategy in this way, you’ll begin to notice an interesting shift. When you realize what actually makes a story newsworthy, you’ll notice that great story ideas pop up in the most unexpected places.

Need help brainstorming some great attention-getting angles for your business? Get in touch.

Now tell me—what’s one story idea you’ve come up with for your business? Leave it in the comment section.

Tami Brehse

About the Author: Tami Brehse

I'm a former TV news anchor turned marketing consultant. I use my media intel to help small businesses stand out online in a way that drives sales. Want to harness the power of media coverage for your business or blog? Take my free, seven-day e-course:

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