How to get into the media
You might be wondering whether you need to hire a professional PR person to help you get media coverage for your business or organization.
There are some fabulous media and communication professionals out there, and they can certainly get you promoted – if you have the funds for that. If you don’t, I’m going to give you the steps you need to get into the media all by yourself.
Down the track, if you decide to work with a PR pro, you’ll already be one step ahead of the game.
So, are you ready to dive into some specific tips on how to get the media to notice you? Here goes!
Have you noticed stories in the media and wondered why the journalist interviewed that expert and not you, when you work in a similar field? As we’ve discussed, having a solid media profile can do amazing things for your business or organization, but not everyone gets on television or radio, or has their story told in newspapers or magazines (remember, I’m focusing on FREE media coverage, as opposed to advertising or paid segments).
So, what’s the secret to getting in the media? Sometimes it’s being in the right place at the right time, but mostly it’s through having a great story angle. The last thing a journalist wants to give you is a free ad. That’s not their job. Their role is to present interesting stories for their audience. If you can come up with an awesome idea for a story angle, you’re a long way towards getting the media interested in you.
Before we jump into that, let’s tackle a fundamental question. How does the media find stories?
Basically, there are four ways journalists get their stories.
1. Things just happen, and they write about them. This can be accidents, natural disasters, scandals, elections, court cases, business collapses – you get the idea.
2. People tell them things, and they write about them. This happens through media releases, emails, phone calls, conversations and social media. Hundreds of potential stories are “pitched” to journalists every day; this makes up a huge portion of what appears in the media.
3. They go looking for interesting things, and write about them. This is where journalists hear juicy snippets on the grapevine and go chasing. It can lead to major investigations and negative stories.
4. They see things on other media and copy them. This is very common; if you find yourself featured in one media outlet and your story is interesting enough, you might just get covered in other media as well.
Now, you mightn't be interested in numbers 1 or 3, but number 2 is right up your street! I'll bet you’re sitting on at least one great story the media would love to cover – and if they did, you'd get free promotion that's going to help position you as a leader in your field. Who wouldn’t want that!
How do I find an “angle”?
The angle is the hook that turns your material from dry information or marketing material into something readers/viewers/listeners want a piece of. It’s the razzle-dazzle element to make the journalist think; “Wow, I just have to write about this!” They can immediately see how the idea could make a compelling story.
What types of angles do journalists look for? Well, it’s no secret that they particularly seek out issues that are controversial, with a hint of scandal or sensation. You’ll notice when you look at the media, it’s the controversial stories that get the biggest run.
At this point, you might be thinking, “I don’t want my business to be controversial!” I’m not suggesting you go out and do something whacky and outrageous just to get publicity (although plenty of people do this to good effect!). There are ways to be mildly controversial and get the media’s interest without making yourself look like a git or compromising your values and brand.
1. Link your story to a topical issue. Think about the time of year and what people are concerned about, and look for areas where your expertise or product fits in. For example, if it’s high school exam time and there’s talk about the pressure on young people to perform - and that happens to be your topic area or something related to your business - you could offer the media some comments about the impacts of teen pressures. Or, if finance is your game it might be about managing money in the lead-up to the holiday season when everyone’s being urged to spend. If you’re a wellness expert, the best time to approach the media might be after a major festive season when people are thinking about detoxing and losing their holiday flab.
2. Link your information to an existing story. If a story is already “hot” in the media and it’s linked to your expertise or business, don’t be afraid to invoke what I call the “power of the pounce”. Pick up the phone to a relevant media outlet and let them know you have expertise in that field and could add new insights to the story. The media loves to get the edge over their competition by finding new elements to a story that’s already getting attention.
3. Produce the facts. Find some fascinating data or do your own research that links to a topical issue. If you can come up with a “first” that relates to a so-hot-right-now subject, you’re likely to get interest.
4. Tug at the heartstrings. If you don’t want to be controversial, you can take advantage of the fact that journalists also love to cover stories with a “human interest” element. You know, that poignant aspect that makes people go “awww” – that makes them laugh or cry, feel uplifted or touched in some way. Tears and laughter sell an enormous amount of paid advertising space, and the same principle applies to free media stories.
Is there something in the work you’re doing that has a human connection – are you helping people in their lives, their businesses, their relationships? The media probably won’t be interested in just doing a story on your product, but they might be keen to do a story on the long-term impact of that product if it’s making a difference in someone’s life in an interesting way.
It’s time to identify an angle in your business, or in your personal expertise, that’s going to get a journalist excited.
Carefully sift through your information. Is there a fact that you can link to something controversial that’s recently been in the media? For example, you might offer a service or product targeted at parents of teenagers, and you’ve noticed there have been hard-hitting reports in the media about teenage behaviour during school break-up week. You could use that to your advantage, by coming up with an angle that links your program with adolescent anti-social behaviour.
Or, you might be a toothpaste manufacturer. That on it’s own is not going to make the front page! But maybe you have access to some fascinating statistics about people neglecting their dental health and how that puts their entire health at risk. Even if your product isn’t directly mentioned in the story (remember, it’s not a free ad), if you get interviewed you’ll still be positioned as an industry expert – and imagine how awesome that would be for your brand, and how you could leverage that through all your social media and other forms of marketing.
So here’s a mission for you; read or watch some news programs and check out the way the stories are written. See if you can identify the angle used by the journalist. That will give you a clue about how you can present your own information in a way that’s palatable to the media.
Most people never get that concept, and as a result they miss out on a whole lot of free promotion.
In my new course, Become a Media Star for Profit and Profile, I go into a detailed, step by step process that teaches you how to craft a killer angle.
It’s especially for people who are frustrated about their message getting lost in the “noise” out there, and are really serious about knowing how to grow their business or strengthen their organisation’s reputation through free media coverage.
You can learn all about it here!
- Journos use multiple methods to come up with stories, but a lot of the time they report on information that’s given to them – by people just like you.
- The key to getting them hooked is to present your information with a strong angle.
- The most effective angle is one that has an element of controversy to it. You don’t need to be hugely controversial yourself; you can latch onto something that’s already making headlines.
- Another way to get media interest is to find a human interest angle – something that tells a story of triumph, tragedy, human struggle and everything in between.
There’s so much more to come, but this is a start to get you into the media. Always think about it from the journalist’s point of view. Find them an interesting story, and you’ll get promoted at the same time.
Want more? Here’s a bonus for you; listen to my podcast, Get the jump on the competition; know how a journalist thinks
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