A new café has opened in town, a manufacturing facility has started a recruitment drive, a business owner is celebrating a milestone and a farming business is trialing a new, sustainable process – it’s all news and these stories have the potential to deliver significant value to their businesses.
Step 1: Identify what you’re trying to achieve
What benefit do you want you or your business to receive from media coverage?
- Leads or sales
- Raise profile within your market or community
- Personal profile
- Speak to your competitors
- Drive change in local, state or federal government
- Identifying or solving an issue
- Contributing to your community
- Brand identification or reputation management, crisis management
Step 2: Identify your target audience
Who do you want to read, hear or see your business story?
- Customers, clients, consumers or end users
- Others in the supply chain
- Industry leaders, stakeholders or professionals
- Your competitors
- Your local community
Then add another one – your local newsroom or journalist contact. They’re the first person you need to convince your story is worth reading or hearing.
Step 3: Identify your business story and angle
What makes your business story stand out, and why would someone want to know about it? Remember, what you might consider your ‘everyday’ or not interesting to share, might be a novelty to somebody else.
- What do you do?
- Why are you passionate?
- What are you doing, or how is your business different from the next, how do you stand out?
- How do you contribute to local markets, communities, industries or supply chains?
- Why is your business important?
- Is there any noteworthy history or novelty?
- Is it a family business?
- How do you impact your end users?
- What is the problem you are trying to solve or solution you have?
- How are you creating an opportunity or addressing a challenge or issue?
Step 4: Find your news value
There are seven news values in an article and you’d need to include as many as you can in your story. Sometimes that isn’t possible, but always include at least one.
- Use words like now and first to create a sense of urgency
- What’s happening now, today, this week.
- What’s happening in your back yard, on your block and in your neighbourhood.
- Think ‘hyper local’.
- How does your business or story impact the audience you identified in step 2?
- Are you or someone in your business a local celebrity or well-known in the community or industry? Use this to your advantage!
Novelty or human interest
- People love knowing about other people. Look for the absurd, unusual, out of the ordinary. Remember while it might not be unusual to you, not everybody has your insight and expertise.
- Think of ‘st’ words (biggest, first, worst, quickest, fastest, longest) to create relevance.
- Think about what’s happening currently where you or your business can add value, for example, weather events, political announcements or social issues.
- Addresses disagreement or an issue you have a solution to.
Step 5: Know the difference between news and advertising
You should not be paying for ad space if your business story is news.
If you can’t fit your story in at least one of the seven news values identified in step 4, you should expect to be asked to buy an ad.
Step 6: Prepare your pitch with the inverted pyramid and style guide
Expect a journalist to cut your story from the bottom to fit print space, while audiences will rarely read a whole story. Make sure you say all the important things you want your audience to know first.
Top five style guide tips when writing up a story
- Numbers alphabetical to nine, numerical after
- One sentence per line
- Always write a headline – answering the simple question why would someone read this?
- Use active voice and one tone
- Call to action – always include a link, contact, or direction telling your audience what to do next
- Photos: always have people, two options, a horizontal and vertical one
Step 7: Pitching your story
This is where you need to think about your audience again- your local member, community or a local market may be reading the regional weekly paper, but you might need to think further afield if you’re trying to reach other audiences. Industry leaders or stakeholders are more likely listening to County Hour for example.
Think of the different types of traditional news: print which usually includes digital, digital on its own, radio which can also include digital and TV. How do you consume your news and where do you want your target audience to see hear or read your business story?
Identify your local journalist or media contact
Have you heard a broadcaster speaking about a topic relevant to you, or something your business can add value to? Form a relationship with them, follow them on Twitter or LinkedIn. Send a print journalist everything they need – your story complete with a call to action, headline and photo, your contact details and your availability if they need more information.
Position yourself or your business as a credible source or thought leader on topical issues so journalists contact you for your value, insight, data or for examples on:
- New policies or amendments
- Social issues
- Anything topical
Remember to choose your time carefully. If your local paper is published daily, don’t pitch your story at 4pm, if your local paper is weekly and runs on Thursdays, pitch your story on Thursday or Friday morning for next week’s paper – it’s no good sending a story to them on Wednesday.
Source: CCIQ’s masterclass at Brisbane Business Hub presented by Rebecca Archer