5 means of overcoming obstacles to media coverage

Getting the attention of journalists can be an intimidating challenge, but it isn’t insurmountable. Do a little prep work to give them lots of incentive to listen.

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1. Find a news hook. According to Beth Monaghan, there are two ways to get media coverage: Make your own news or find a way to hook onto current news. If you can tie your story idea to a timely topic already making headlines, it is more likely to catch a reporter’s attention. 2. Build relationships. Reporters are more likely to trust resources who have helped them out in the past. With shrinking news staffs, they are strapped for time, often writing upwards of five stories a day. They don’t have time to read emails promoting ideas that have nothing to do with their coverage areas. If you are looking to get attention from a specific reporter, it is essential to get to know them. While this used to happen over lunch and coffee, we are now reliant on the rare phone call and Twitter, which my colleague Samantha McGarry indicates is a “huge and untapped asset for building relationships with reporters.” If you are smart, knowledgeable, and helpful the first time you interact with a journalist, it is highly likely they will come back to you again. 3. Have a spokesperson. Your spokesperson must be readily available. That means if the reporter is available in an hour, so is the spokesperson. Reporters work on very tight deadlines, so you are more likely to get coverage if you are available when they are. Also, make sure the spokesperson is up to speed on all messaging and talking points. Most times, they can end up crafting the story you want to tell during the interview if they are prepared ahead of time. For additional advice on navigating the media interview, check out Beth Monaghan’s tips on how to get quoted as you intend. 4. Provide supporting materials. Journalists aren’t going to buy into a story just because you are selling it. Having supporting data and infographics validates the story and helps reporters do their job by providing ready-made visuals. As my colleague Lee Glandorf points out, an editor will need visual elements when it’s time to publish, so get ahead of them by offering compelling visuals around which to craft the content. 5. Issue a call to action. Make sure you are clear about what you are asking the reporter to do. Do you have a new story idea you’d like them to consider? Would you like to schedule a meeting with one of your executives? Or do you want to provide a new perspective on a story they’ve already written? A pitch with a clear call to action is more likely to achieve the end result you are looking for.

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