Pitching a story to the media is truly an art form. There are a number of components to consider from the individual writing or reporting your story to the audience that will be reading or watching it.
I have pitched a number of stories in my role as Director of Communications for The ChadTough Foundation as well as in my consulting work with professional athletes. Therefore, I recognize what it takes for a story to be picked up.
Whether you’re looking to promote an event or simply promote yourself or your business, here are questions to ask yourself as you look to media to cover:
Is your story newsworthy?
There are two types of professional athletes: those who generate media attention when they wake up in the morning and those who are asked if they know the athletes who generate media attention when they wake up in the morning.
You know who you are.
I greatly appreciate the players who have a sense of humor when they show up to a kids’ charity event only to be asked if they “know Miguel Cabrera/Lebron James/insert megastar here.”
Point being, if you aren’t generating news simply because you’re breathing, you will have to ask yourself if what you’re doing is newsworthy. Note: stories that seem newsworthy to you may not be newsworthy to the general public.
Did you become the first in your family to graduate college? Live on 10-percent of your salary to set yourself up for after you’re done playing?
These may be worth covering for someone in the local media.
Is your story any good?
Let’s just lay it out there: will anyone care what you have to say? Often times — especially when promoting an event — perspective on whether a story is good or not is lost.
Think about browsing social media or reading ESPN — what catches your attention? What makes a good story?
When you’re trying to promote an event and you’re not Lebron James, the best way to get it out there is to pitch it along with an accompanying story.
For example, let’s say you’re putting on an event to raise money for foster kids. That’s really nice, but it isn’t a news story. Add in the component that you grew up in foster homes and persevered through it and you have a fantastic story.
Is your story mutually beneficial?
This is a big one.
When you’re pitching a story to a member of the media, you must think about whether it is mutually beneficial. If all you do is tell a reporter what you want out of their coverage, you won’t be doing the most critical thing of all: building a relationship.
Once you’ve shown a member of the media that you will help them look good by giving them quality stories, he or she will be more likely to pitch their editors to your events or initiatives.
Note: The mutually beneficial part also comes after the story runs. Push out the coverage via social media or link to it from your website with a thank you to the person who wrote or produced it.
What if your story isn’t picked up?
If the answer to any of these questions is no, you may consider a different way to get your story to the general public. Blog it yourself, write a press release, or post a video to social media talking about your event or initiative.
Bonus: Sometimes stories aren’t big enough for media to cover it themselves, but they will highlight your coverage. Send what you write or record to your media list and you may get coverage regurgitating what you’ve already done.
Do you have to do all of this yourself?
No, you don’t! When you’re just starting out, however, you may have to do a lot of this yourself.
Once you’re more established, it’s a good idea to hire a public relations professional who already has established relationships with the media, writing skills, and the ability to come up with quality stories to pitch.
When you get to that point of hiring someone, make sure you have a specific goal in place such as growing a business or a foundation. That way, you are putting your money to good use and will eventually get a return!