Want to Be in the News? Be Newsworthy, Be Organised, Be Known.
3 September 2015 at 10:46 am
It’s time for Not for Profit marketers to shift gears when it comes to competing for media coverage in a competitive and changing media landscape, writes communications expert Joshua Stockwell who delivers his three top tips on gaining media exposure for your cause.
Australian Newsrooms are becoming smaller, journalists are becoming busier, news photographers are almost non existent, media profits are being downgraded, and digital media is transforming how we watch, read, and listen to the news. It’s clear that Australia is faced with one of the most complicated media consumption eras yet.
Yet we still expect our news to be on the radar of newsrooms across the country, but sadly, it’s not.
We’ve all been there, sat around a makeshift boardroom table, days away from launching a campaign, and decide we want and deserve front page national media attention. Fast-forward three days – we’re now sat around scratching our heads wondering why journalists “don’t get us” and “don’t get it”.
Unfortunately, the reality is that perhaps it’s us who don’t get it. We expect journalists to find the angle, to scramble through website after website looking for research to support our story, to take the photographs, to check our sources, the list goes on.
Twenty years ago, that may have been the case; but the media landscape has changed, and marketers (especially Not for Profit marketers) must change with it. We must take this as an opportunity to gain media coverage by being newsworthy and making our articulate and eloquent media friend’s jobs easier for them. It’s time we played the game like professionals.
Top Three Tips for Gaining Media Coverage
Be Newsworthy (or opinionated)
No matter who you know or who you are, in the world of media, it’s actually newsworthiness that is next to godliness. A journalist’s credibility relies on their ability to sift through the noise and deliver the news, so if it’s not newsworthy to their audience, you won’t get a look in.
Place yourself in the shoes of their readers (and if you don’t know who they are I suggest sourcing their advertising kit to understand their demographics) and develop your angle around their interests. Think about your news and how it relates to a wider social construct and then develop your release and pitch around that. At this stage, do your research and find valid data to support your statements.
With that said, it’s equally important to not over-analysis your work and provide information that’s irrelevant to the target audience. If you don’t need to delve into a macroeconomic analysis, then don’t.
Remember that newspapers have two key responsibilities: 1) Deliver the news; and 2) Deliver readers to advertisers.
So if your angle and pitch doesn’t address a topic of mainstream appeal in the target publication’s audience, find a way to make sure it does (or scrap it all together).
An alternative to being newsworthy, is to be opinionated. If your internal representatives have an organic and “real” opinion on a certain topic of newsworthy nature, pitch their opinion or analysis of the situation to the media; but when you do, support your opinion with data and informative research from third parties that help validate the commentary. Over the years I’ve seen leaders unknown to the media become the go-to-source for commentary as a result of cleverly crafted sound bites, media responses, and opinion pieces.
This tip is short and sweet – and that’s simply to have a media kit ready to send to journalists. I mentioned above the importance of making their jobs easier to increase your chances of gaining coverage and being organised speaks directly to that. You should have a media kit that includes: your media release (with contact details), hi-res photographs or a link to download them, short bios of the key people mentioned in the release, an extended company bio and any extended research you have mentioned in your release.
This kit should provide journalists with the information they need to both assess the worth of the story and then write the story.
Not that it needs to be said, before your work leaves your computer – have someone else proofread it, twice!
When you’re pitching to the media, being newsworthy and organised will get you so far, but it always helps to be known to journalists and known in the sector. Instead of BCC’ing a list of journalists with your media release, it’s critical to pick up the phone and have a personal conversation. Once you’ve established a rapport then email away.
A cheeky coffee, beer, or $10 chicken parmigiana never went astray either.
On the topic of being known, it’s vital to have a voice in the sector. With more than 600,000 Not for Profits operating in Australia you need to stand out. If you’re an unknown, journalists will undoubtedly stalk you on social media so it’s important to:
– have a Twitter profile and use it regularly
– develop a blog and write intelligent commentary on your sector
– build up your LinkedIn profile through engaging new contacts, sharing rich content, and post your blogs on this platform also
So while it may seem like there are lots of rules to take into consideration while trying to gain media coverage, the benefits are well worth it. When you’re operating in the Not for Profit space, you’re competing for the philanthropic dollar – and that’s a tough gig, so be newsworthy, be organised, and be known.
When you're struggling with the process, remember your beneficiaries, and that will undoubtedly give you the strength to keep pushing through.
About the author: Joshua Stockwell is Co-Founder and Director of Strategy at Bristol Fashion Communications. With 15 years of experience in Marketing, Advertising, and Publishing across Not for Profit and Corporate sectors, Stockwell co-leads the charge of Bristol Fashion, which creates marketing strategies that drive organisational growth in the Not for Profit and Social Enterprise sectors. Stockwell can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org