Don’t pitch these three stories to journalists: a breakdown of what makes media twitch

A slab of beer for the whole newspaper office.

That was the punishment bestowed on any journalist who came back to the office with a story featuring a giant cheque handover.

And don’t get me started on what we had to pay the editor if we came back from covering an accident, Council, parliament, news brief or conference without the full contact details of the people we interviewed, in case we had follow-up questions.

You may ask why I’m telling you this, rather than the therapist usually responsible for helping recovering newspaper journalists.

The reason: To help raise awareness of what actually sparks the interest of newsrooms full of overworked and underpaid journalists.

The rules of thumb of what else makes journalists develop even more nervous twitches or worse instantly disengage are:

Launch of new brand and logo: While it’s an incredible and momentous moment for you and your business, the sad fact is media outlets don’t care, and neither do their readers (unless you’re competitors or other designers). Leave that for your “owned” platform.

While I’m on a roll, the same goes for the launch of a new website. Unless it has bells and whistles that no one has ever seen before, or some absolutely amazing technology that will change the world of websites as we know them, you will be hard pressed to find a journalist who cares. And please don’t think that simply claiming your website is unique or earth-changing will be enough. If you can’t back that claim up, don’t make it. The same goes for any claim like that. I can promise you that will get caught and lose any credibility you might have had with the journalist.

A new process: Sorry, but journalists don’t care if you have implemented a “streamlined and innovative”’ way to do business like paying people, paying your staff or even onboarding people. Unless you invented the platform, rather than bought a ready-made platform and installed it, they don’t want to know … and even then, unless you have hard data about the platform you built and can show case studies, they most likely still don’t care.

Sponsorship: While it is amazing and incredibly generous of your company to sponsor your local football club or school fete, it’s not enough to spark interest in external media. Unless it’s a significant donation (I mean millions) and involves an amount or incorporates a project that will really drive change, leave it once again for your own platform. I don’t mean to sound harsh, but think about how many stories the journalists get pitched about companies donating or supporting local charities. If they covered every story pitched to them, that’s all the media outlets would cover every day.

The reality is that media outlets these days have limited space, limited people to write or produce stories and are very much aware of what gets traffic and clicks – which keeps them in a job.

They know certain stories just don’t get the traffic they need to remain competitive in their incredibly competitive market.

This is where the use of “owned” and “earned” becomes even more valuable.

For those who aren’t across these two terms:

“Owned media is when you leverage a channel you create and control, such as your blog, website, social media, newsletter, podcast etc.

Earned media is when customers, the press and the public share your content, speak about your brand via word of mouth, and otherwise discuss your brand. You earn the right to feature on their external platform, but you are subject to their final editorial control.”

Keep the three items above for your own platform. Given they will be sent and distributed to your network, which has more of an affinity to your brand, they will be more engaged in what you have to say.

By knowing and respecting what sparks the attention of media contacts you will be in a better place for more engaging conversations, as they will know that you respect their role and only pitch stories of value.

Trust me, it’s worth it.  I’ve got the receipts from BWS for the slabs of beer.

I’m always free for a chat if you are unsure or want a review of what might spark the attention of your relevant media outlets. Click here for my contact details.

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