Cynghorion ar gynnig stori i newyddiadurwyr

Our industry has changed beyond recognition over the past decade but it is still crucial to understand how to target media, whether press, broadcast, bloggers or online journalists. These top tips give a useful checklist to ensure you’re story has the best chance of being picked up….

 What journalists look for in a story:

  • Relevance:  every story they cover has to be topical and relevant to the news or political agenda that day.  Try and find a natural news ‘hook’ to hang your proposed story idea onto e.g. National Awareness Weeks, Government papers, school schedules, seasonal hooks, sporting events etc
  • Human interest:  case studies are what bring a story to life and make it relevant to viewers / readers. Always try and source one to accompany your story.  For example: if your story is about a new Learn to Swim scheme, find a swimming pool that runs it and also a parent and child benefiting from this new scheme
  • Facts & figures:  facts and figures that back up your claims and substantiate your story are also important and should be included in your press release and don’t forget to quote the source.  Journalists will often turn this data into an info graphic for use as part of their broadcast, online or print piece.  For example: if your story is about a new Learn to Swim scheme, give them stats on how many adults / children in Wales currently cannot swim; how many deaths through drowning occur every year in Wales
  • Conflict & controversy:  if your story is of a sensitive nature then be prepared that the media will look to ‘spin’ certain details to sensationalise its content – as bad news sells.  Press releases around changes to local services or price rises are classic stories that get blown up into attention grabbing headlines
  • Spoon feeding: journalists are on very tight deadlines and under constant pressure to close a story.  So the more leg work you can do for them, in terms of lining up spokes persons, sourcing and writing up case studies etc, the better chance your story has of getting used

Where journalists look for a story: 

  • National and local news agencies and wire services e.g. Press Association
  • PR agencies / consultants
  • Court cases, deaths, inquests
  • Tip offs
  • Plenary sessions at the Senedd; Council meetings and Welsh Government Committees
  • Published reports and white papers / public consultations
  • What’s running in the news that day
  • Emergency services

What you need to provide: 

  • Press release: concise, clear and with supporting quotes from campaign spokespersons and relevant facts and figures
  • Case study: written up case study to illustrate your press release and contact details should the journalist wish to interview the case study directly
  • Photography: high resolution creative shots (minimum 300 dpi required). Each with corresponding photo caption (especially when there are people included in the shot)
  • Video: if you have any supporting video content, this is useful for broadcast and online press in particular
  • Interviews: a list of who is available for interview and their / or your contact details to arrange

FACT SHEET:    HOW TO PITCH IN A STORY 

  • Prepare your media list – if you don’t have access to a paid for media directory such as Gorkana or Precise, you will need to ‘Google’ or call each of your target newspapers / local and trade press magazines to find out the name, contact number and email address both for the general news desk and for the reporter relevant to your story content e.g. Business reporter, environment correspondent, political reporter etc
  • Know your target media – make sure that you read a few issues of your target media / page edited by your target journalist to get a feel for the type of stories they run, content on the page they look after etc.  There’s nothing worse than calling a journalist to pitch in a story and you’re not familiar with their publication, something that will be apparent to them very early on in your phone call
  • Phone ahead – once you have your press release written and approved, always phone ahead to your key target journalists to ‘warm them’ up to your story and why they should cover it.  Then follow up your call by issuing the news release and any photography to the journalists directly
  • If it’s a ‘yes’ we’ll cover the story – thank the journalist, ask if he/she requires any additional information over and above the press release and photography e.g. An interview with your campaign spokesman or case studies or hyperlink to any relevant company videos?  Confirm what date the story will appear in the target publication so you can set up a google alert (unless you have a paid for press monitoring service in place)
  • If it’s a ‘no’ we won’t cover your story – always ask why it won’t be covered.  If it’s lack of space in the publication, ask if it can run on the first available day; if the journalist requires more information or a case study, always offer to source this for them – anything that makes a journalist’s life easier is always a good start
  • Event diary marker – if the story you’re pitching relates to an event you wish to pre publicise / get journalists and photographers to attend on the day to interview your event spokespersons and case studies, then you need to issue a diary marker four days before your event so that the target media log it in their diaries to attend.
  • Timing – always conduct a quick internet search re other events or news agenda items scheduled to take place on the day you plan to issue your story to the media.  There is no point sending out your story on the day Barak Obama is coming to Newport for the Kyoto Summit for example, as most of the newspaper will be given over to covering this event.  Timing can also work in your favour.  For Example, try and find natural ‘news’ hooks to hang your story on to give it relevance.  For example, a news story re growing incidence in skin cancer will do well during Skin Cancer Awareness Week; anti-smoking campaign stories linked to National No Smoking Day etc
  • Believe in your story – genuine enthusiasm and a clear sell-in and concise pitch email go a long way to persuading a journalist so be positive and enthusiastic but know your media!


Gadael Ymateb