When reporters say “no,” the person pitching often protests, “But this issue is so important!”
It might be important, but there’s a big difference between what you consider important and what the reporter considers newsworthy.
For example, there are more than 35 million people worldwide with HIV. That’s an important story. To a reporter, that story will be no more important tomorrow than it is today—unless something related to HIV happens today. If physicians discover a new vaccine or a drug company pledges to provide free drugs to a million HIV patients in Africa, the important issue will suddenly become newsworthy.
As a spokesperson, you must understand what reporters consider newsworthy. You can often propel your story from important to newsworthy just by highlighting a different angle.
So, look at that story you’re about to pitch, and see which of the following 16 elements it has (hopefully it has several). If you’re not prioritizing those elements, turn them into your lead.
1. Conflict: Reporters are professional storytellers, and good stories contain conflict. If you disagree with a competitor’s approach, you’re more likely to receive coverage than if you agree.