10 Tips to Hit the Headlines

This is a rehash of something I wrote for a major national newspaper more than two years ago. I have tweaked it to be more comprehensive, with the general principles remaining the same. Of course, this doesn't guarantee coverage everytime, but if at first you don't succeed, try, try again!

Here are 10 tips to improve your chances of making it into the news:

1) Understand the needs and target audiences of different media. Establish rapport with journalists and editors and speak to them to understand what they are gunning for. Which categories of stories do they normally cover? What are their editorial styles?

2) Think how your business or work can appeal as a story. At the same time, create different story angles to cater to the needs of different media. Are there any human-interest elements in your business (rags to riches can be quite popular)? How about quirky facts or pioneering breakthroughs like being the only bak kwa stall which blogs or being the first convenience store specially catered to seniors?

3) Write a press release. These should be tightly written, cramming the most amount of information into the least amount of words. Think of the "Whos, Whats, Wheres, Whens, Whys, and Hows" (5W 1 H). Write in an inverted pyramid format (though there are exceptions), with strong headlines and fact-filled leading paragraphs. Quotations from significant individuals like the CEO or founder are also useful to have.

4) Prepare a press kit. These are tools that help reporters at their job and to paint a compelling story. Fact sheets, websites, photographs, maps, architectural plans, artist impressions, video clips, sound files, customer testimonials, white papers and other essential materials should be included.

5) Employ the most effective and timely means of reaching the press. Find out if they prefer you to call, email, fax or SMS. Also, ensure that the information is fresh and not already used elsewhere. Journalists are constantly fighting a battle with tight demanding deadlines so its important to meet their schedules.

6) Create an original publicity stunt that is relevant to your business. Something unusual, wacky and newsy - like getting the most number of senior citizens in your shop at one time (why college students only?). Donate all your profits for one day to a particular charity.

7) Get others to talk about you. These could be customers, experts in the field, suppliers, or Board Members. Send these testimonials and their contacts to the press if they are really significant. Third party views work magic, especially if they are credible and believable (ie dispense with the hardsell).

8) Create photography, video or sound opportunities for the media. Nothing gets good coverage faster than interesting photographs for newspapers (not smile-and-say-cheese posed shots!). Unique sound bites may get you national radio coverage, while dramatically choreographed activities (like a CEO sky diving for a branch opening) would generate TV news.

9) Position yourself as a newsmaker by providing opportunities to showcase thought leadership or expertise. For example, offer to conduct public workshops in an area that you are good at. Anything from baking, marketing, retailing, to massage therapies. Draft a white paper, conduct a study, or start a wiki, blog or podcast relevant to your area.

10) After you have basked in the limelight (hopefully), create a pipeline for future media opportunities. Keep the media abreast of the latest newsworthy developments in your organisation. Send them your calendar of events, and invite them often to your events and activities.

Labels: , , ,