Thursday, December 17, 2015

How to Take Advantage of the Challenges Facing News Organizations

PR expert Edward Segal contributed today's post. He has placed stories in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and The Los Angeles Times, and is author of Profit by Publicity.

The challenges you face in convincing the media to do stories about you or your company is matched only by the challenges editors and reporters face in gathering and reporting the news.

In order to produce their news products—such as a daily newspaper, the latest posts on their Web site or social media platforms, or nightly TV news program—editors, producers and their staff must contend with a never-ending series hurdles. These include:

  • Making decisions on which events or activities to cover, especially in the face of late-breaking news.
  • Weeding out the truly newsworthy press releases from the hundreds of apparently superfluous, irrelevant or poorly written ones that they receive every day.
  • Fact-checking stories.
  • Finding the best available experts to interview, explain or provide perspective on  technical or complex stories.
  • Maintaining staff morale in the face of budget cutbacks, mergers and acquisitions among news organizations, and the creeping influence of some advertising departments on the news judgments of editorial personnel.
  • Providing enough time and resources so reporters can adequately research stories and be properly prepared to interview people for them.
  • Ensuring that the work of their reporters, editors and producers meets the criteria of good journalism. 
How do you turn the media’s lemons into your lemonade? To ensure that, despite their problems and difficulties, you’re able to convince news organizations to do the stories you or your company want done? By going the extra mile to help make their jobs—and their decision to do stories about you—as easy as possible. Here’s how:

Help them with their homework. Provide them with as much background information as you think is appropriate about your story, including news releases, fact sheets or other stories that have been written about you or the topic. 

Don’t wait until it’s too late. Give editors and reporters as much advance notice as possible about scheduled events such as news-making special events.

Show them the story. Find the best possible visuals to "show" your story as well as tell it; and be sure to let the news organizations know about your visuals when you contact them. 

Give them ideas. Call editors and reporters with story ideas that you think they may be interested in, even though those ideas may not result in news coverage about you. By showing them you are a resource of information and ideas, they will be more receptive to your calls later when you pitch them a story about yourself. 

Provide good sound bites. Once you have the media’s attention, take full advantage of the opportunity by providing them with the quotes they need to help tell their story to their audiences. The better your quotes, the more likely it is that they’ll be used… and that the reporters will come back to you in the future for more interviews.
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