Top tips to help you create news stories

Out of sight, out of mind. That’s why you need to keep your clients in the media, for all the right reasons. Even if your client isn’t up to anything particularly newsworthy, it is still possible to make sure they are getting media coverage. Here experts give their advice for keeping your clients in the spotlight.

Top tips for getting the media’s attention

From Rebekah Epstein, founder of PR agency Fifteen Media:

Look beyond the obvious. Seek out story ideas outside of the actual product/service. Talk to clients about company culture, leadership style, hobbies and inspiration. Meet lots of different people in various roles in the business. These conversations can lead to new pitch ideas. Finding out more about a client can also open the door to pitch publications in a variety of genres.

Get into the mind of the consumers. Spend time thinking about who purchases your client’s products/services. Think about what benefits your client offers their customers, and include those selling points in your pitch. Then, focus on pitching the publications read by your targeted demographic.

From Mark Knight, director at PR agency Broadgate Mainland:

Plan ahead. Looking to the key dates and events in the months ahead which you can then spin stories from. The Queen’s diamond jubilee was used by many as ways to look into how things have changed over the last 60 years. Anything can be related back to 60 years ago from underwear to pensions, and equities to hotels, ideal for consumer and trade magazines.

News jack. Riding off the back of breaking news stories is an important tool in the armoury for generating radio, national newspaper and online financial coverage. The more you can associate your clients products and services with every day events the more chance you have of generating national coverage. But be aware of stretching the story too far as journalists can just as easily turn on the story as an example of PR spin in bad taste if it’s too far-fetched or deemed overtly commercial. (PRmoment recently offered some news jacking tips)

From Charlotte Collins-White, partner at Lansons Communications:

Know your media. Make sure you know who the publications you are targeting are aimed at and what slots there are. If you don’t know, get a copy, look it up on a media database or check out what information they have on their website, there is no excuse. You will then be able to generate the right stories for those publications. For the best results you need to align your story to what the publication wants, if it is a regional paper like the Birmingham Post, it will want a regional angle; a legal publication like The Lawyer wants a legal angle.

Hear what your client is saying to others. Make sure you see all the collateral being produced by the business that goes out to clients/customer, as these can provide great inspiration.

Get your team together. Team work provides some of the best results to generate stories, so make sure you get your team together to think through and come up with different story angles.

Find all the available slots. There are some slots in publications, for example, you may not have considered at first. Do they have a picture slot, where they would run a visual, do they take advice pieces, videos, Q&A or features? Think about ideas for all these different forms of coverage.

Case study

Johanna Cassells, director and head of B2B at PR agency Bottle, gives examples of making the news agenda:

"The formation of story ideas tends to come from two main sources. First, we’re addicted to news! We create story ideas from the news agenda where we monitor for topical stories and respond to them with our clients’ thoughts which we help shape. Second, we try to come up with ideas that will trigger the imagination of our clients’ customers.

"The story could be something visually creative such as a recent Golden Wonder campaign where the public was urged to embrace a change in colour of the salt-and-vinegar and cheese-and-onion crisp bags. Or it could be a consumer awareness campaign such when we worked with Olleco highlighting the rising price of petrol at the pump due to the increased use of imported ethanol. The public loves to embrace a good story and our role is to tell it clearly and memorably, but also to tell it truthfully."

PRmoment Awards 2019