Six Ways to Secure Media Coverage When You Don’t Have “News”

November 5, 2018 | Brian Price

At AKCG – Public Relations Counselors, we are big believers in creating our own news.

But just because you don’t have a major announcement or special event to share with reporters does not mean your organization can’t be featured in the news.

Media outlets are always looking for content, and your organization has plenty of stories to tell.

The key is finding your organization’s stories by leveraging the resources you already have at your disposal.

Here are six tips that will help you generate media interest in your organization without having any “news.”

1. Focus on the story, not the “sell.”

If you pitch a reporter a story about how amazing your product/service is, your chance of securing media coverage is extremely slim.

To grab the media’s attention, think about your brand’s strongest advocates. What problem did your service solve for them?

If your company has celebrity users that love your product, that can make things a lot easier. Pitch their story, if they are game.

“But my company doesn’t have a celebrity user.”

Reporters love human interest stories about people’s lives, even if the person is not a celebrity. Has your product helped improve someone’s quality of life? Is your service changing the way people do everyday tasks? What’s unique about your offering?

If you find a customer who loves your product and can tell a compelling story, consider spotlighting his or her experience with the product. For example, if you own a comic book store and have an elderly customer who has been coming to your store since he was a child, there’s a potential story. Does he bring his grandchildren to your store? Does he have rare comic books? How big is his collection? Have you and your staff created a special bond with him?

Customer stories are among the best way to tell your organization’s story.

2. Leverage breaking news.

News breaks instantly in the digital age. Once a story catches some momentum, social media mentions can cause a story to pick up steam very quickly. Once the story breaks, national, regional and local reporters go on the hunt for subject matter experts to discuss the topic.

For example, let’s say you work for a local hospital. You’re enjoying watching Monday night football, and a star player breaks his arm. The local news stations will discuss the injury, so why not pitch one of the hospital’s doctors to discuss a broken arm’s recovery time, rehabilitation techniques and specifics of the injury?

However, when you leverage the news, you need to be careful when interjecting. You don’t want to put your organization’s reputation at risk. Be careful not to hurt your organization’s credibility or open yourself or the subject matter expert up to criticism.

3. Cultivate and categorize data.

Reporters love data. Just like a brand ambassador or advocate, hard data can add crucial third-party credibility to your pitch, release or media alert. Consider commissioning or recommending a study to explore topics related to your organization’s industry.

For example, let’s say you provide senior care services. You can facilitate a survey to discover the percentage of people who are unaware of the services provided to them, in addition to learning attitudes associated with senior care. You can leverage the data points from your findings (which are exclusive to your organization) to pitch the story to reporters to educate their readers while you get the opportunity to advocate for your positions.

Data can do more than earn you 15 minutes of fame. It also serves as a great tool to educate your audience and position your organization as a thought leader in its industry.

4. Submit editorial pieces.

Is there an issue plaguing your industry? Can your organization provide commentary on the future of your industry? Is there a cause that your organization’s leadership is passionate about? Have you developed a different concept or process to be more efficient or change lives?

Crafting a letter to the editor or a byline article allows your organization’s name and leader(s) to get media coverage and positions them as thought leaders. When writing byline articles, you need to provide value to the media outlet’s readers. If you write a piece that too strongly promotes your organization, the editor or reporter will transfer you to the advertising department.

The key is to position your organization’s leader as a thought leader.

5. Feature your people.

News organizations want to tell stories that resonate with their readers. While feature reporters often highlight business executives, they also seek stories of “everyday people.” Your organization is filled with employees who have compelling stories. Reach out to reporters for profiles on your staff or C-suite executives.

Another consideration is entering award programs. There are awards that highlight organizations, company culture, business executives and employees.

Keep an eye out for industry, local, regional and national publications that offer award programs. You can go even more granular by looking for award programs in your city, town or nearest Chamber of Commerce.

Don’t just focus on C-suite executives. At AKCG, we have won numerous awards for clients by highlighting their nonexecutive employees. Award programs are also a great way to boost employee morale. Find distinct story angles from line-level employees to keep pitches fresh.

6. Pitch holidays and relevant monthly themes.

Every month has at least one special theme. Every day has a special theme. Take advantage of these potential opportunities when you’re low on media ideas.

Do some research on special events, holidays and monthly themes relevant to your organization.

For example, let’s say your company developed an app that monitors heart rate. You could pitch reporters a story that ties into Heart Health Month. Media outlets will cover multiple angles about the heart in that time frame. Why not inject your brand into the news cycle?

Planning ahead is essential for this type of pitching strategy. If you pitch media during Heart Health Month, the chances of securing media success is slim. Most media outlets are planning ahead, like you should. Get your story idea in front of a reporter before the month hits, or you may miss out on a great opportunity to highlight your business or offering.

By crafting timely, well-targeted pitches and leveraging the resources around you — your brand users, your people and hijacked news cycles — you can make a big splash for your organization.