Image: Richard Masoner/Flickr Image: Richard Masoner/Flickr

Getting press coverage is not difficult, you just have to understand what the media needs, and give it to them in the appropriate way. Tet Kofi, explains how to get the attention of journalists.

Put yourself in a journalist’s shoes. He or she is not in the business to be unread or unnoticed. To be read they need to share information that is of interest to people. That usually means that they are sharing news, insights or information that solves problems for people or satisfies their curiosity. That’s the first acid test for whether you’ll be covered. Is what you’re sending them news worthy and does it provide insight?

Tell a story that is newsworthy

While you might strike on a piece of news that is coming out of your business spontaneously, a safer way to check what is newsworthy is to see what is being talked about in the media already round your sector of business. What are the emerging trends, what are the sector challenges, what solutions are being offered to these, how have they affected other businesses, and most fascinating of all, what the future looks like in your niche. As a journalist, I just love crystal ball gazing and trying to steer readers in the direction of what is coming up over the horizon. If you, through your news, can help a journalist do these things you suddenly become of great interest to them. Remember, while journalists know a bit about everything, they can’t put the flesh on the bones of any story without your input. They need your experiences your challenges, your triumphs, and how you achieved them to illustrate a story and tell it in a compelling way.

When you see what’s on the news agenda, what’s being written about, find an angle that expands the story. The growth of your sector using digital technology, for example, makes your new hire or new partnership with digital skills way more interesting. So, when the press release goes out your new hire or new linkage becomes a story about the future direction of your business or sector. That’s far more interesting to readers than a puff piece about how you’ve grown. The angle of sector growth to promote the fact of your business’ growth tells readers about what’s happening in the industry, and it can’t be told without your experience and actions. That’s what finding angles does. It makes your news more newsworthy or significant because of the insight it shares on the line of travel of your general sector of business. That’s why a business calendar is crucial for your PR.

Timeliness is an important way to get interest from journalists. If you connect your news to these natural news events, journalists are more likely to write about you because you’re part of the actualities of events in your industry. Make sure to keep updated on the events and national release days of key economic data and reports, that’s how you will get an idea of when to send your press release. Journalists want to hear how they impact real businessmen and it’s a great source of attention for your experiences and insights.

Story telling is also key

Whether it’s business or social life, every story is a drama of sorts. There is a protagonist (you), an obstacle or challenges (market conditions, events and limitations), and a goal (business growth). The story is how you overcome the challenges to achieve your goal, and nothing is more compelling than the challenges founders encounter as people. These story lines are inspirational, filled with tension and drive readers to engage with them. So, your story is always more interesting with a human angle, be it that of staff, founders or customers.

Of course, the material with which the content is packaged is also key. You’ll need good high-resolution pictures that illustrate the story. Whether it’s pack shots, slice-of-working-life shots, or whatever, you mustn’t send thumbnails nobody can use. Sometimes stories are taken up because the pictures are excellent. You’ll also need quotes to provide the insights and understanding you’ve gained from the story and the facts being told. Make sure the quote adds something that isn’t already obvious from the story. A quote is your opportunity to demonstrate thought leadership or subject matter expertise.

Write a compelling headline

More likely than not your story will go out via a press release. You’ve to make sure your press release headline is both relevant and attention getting. Keep it under 80 characters including spaces and make it interesting but above all relevant. The same applies to your email’s headline; it must pass the tests of relevance and attention getting. Of course, should the journalist need more information, links to your website, social feeds and other contact points should all be made available in notes to editors in your press release or via your email.

Journalists are your friend. They could not do their job without you, the business that’s sending them stories. All you need do is ensure your news is newsworthy, timely, worthy of being shared, offering insight or better understanding and is well illustrated. Finally, when a journalist contacts you for further interview, do make sure you’re available, if not, your competitors may get the opportunity you created.

Written by: Tetteh Kofi, JournoLink brand ambassador

Tetteh is a broadcast journalist with credits on the BBC, ITN, LBC and Colourful Radio in news and current affairs. He is also an brand ambassador for JournoLink, an online PR platform for SMEs.

For other artilces on this theme, see Why press releases are crucial to your business