Compelling, Emotional & Interesting -The Three Keys to Coverable Stories

    Trying to figure out how to get your story covered in today's media landscape? According to the panelists at our April 11 luncheon, providing stories that are compelling, emotional and interesting is the first step. At the joint PRSAHR/HRAMA media panel former journalist, now media consultant, Cheryl Tan guided Don London, VP operations, Entercom Radio, Angela Blue, editor-in-chief, Coastal Virginia Magazine, Bob Matthews, host of WNIS Ask the Expert, and Doug Wieder, executive news director, 13NewsNow through a series of questions designed to assist public relations and marketing practitioners in gaining coverage for the organizations and clients. While the way to pitch may have changed throughout the years (more on that below), the panelists reiterated some basics that the PR pro should know like the back of their hand, to include:

    • Know the audience of the media entity and pitching accordingly. Target media entities whose consumers are interested in the story you are telling. Don London referred to his audience as the "wall of women" while Bob Matthews' sports radio show has a completely different demographic. Dave Wieder reminded us that television audiences vary by time of day, so do your research and pitch the right journalist at the right outlet. 

    • Build relationships with reporters, radio hosts, editors, etc. Having an established relationship with a journalist helps your stories or correspondence stand out in the sea of email clutter. How do you start? Pick up the phone and call. Get out there in the community and introduce yourself. If you were at the luncheon, did you stay behind and meet the panelists? Why not? Also, Angela Blue does not want to talk to you. Kidding...but she did reiterate that, for her, phone calls don't work, but email does. The point? Don't give up if a reporter does not return your call immediately. Call again or follow up with an email. 

    • Schedule events at optimal times for coverage. If you're hosting a special event or press conference and are hoping for coverage, scheduling it during the 9:30 a.m. television editorial meeting probably isn't the best way to get covered. Scheduling events from 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m. will provide your best chance for coverage.

     A few other tips from the panelists:

    • Are press releases dead? Not particularly, but you need more than just the release. Make your stories turnkey with photos, videos, quotes, etc. If you're hosting media on site for interviews, have time slots and stick to them. Reporters are stretched thin, so do everything you can to help them cover your story. Oh, and don't send anything hard copy.

    • Pitch for social coverage. Sometimes a reporter might not be able to get you into their publication or onto their show, but pitch them to post on their social feeds. The reach you gain there could be just as effective. Interesting promo ideas, such as YNot pizza sending heart shaped pizzas on Valentine's Day, can help you land social coverage.

    • Be cognizant of themed issues when pitching to print publications. Check out the editorial calendars before sending in your release.

    • For radio, pitch stories that are congruent with the host's interests

    For additional information on perfecting your pitches, check out these resources:

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