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Last month, I delivered a workshop to the charities of Bath and the surrounding area on behalf of our brilliant partner, 3SG. The aim of the session was to take the group’s understanding of the media relations landscape one step further, equipping them with the knowledge (and a few tips and tricks) to ensure their charity is seen and heard in the media by the right people, at the right time.
In this blog, I share a snippet of what was presented. Whether you’re a charity or business, hopefully the next three minutes of reading will help you to get your voice heard in the news.
Identifying newsworthy stories: What do people want to read?
In PR, we split news into two categories – soft and hard.
Hard news usually covers topics that are timely, important, or consequential. Investments, new client wins, new senior staff members, management buyouts, product launches and so on; hard news is usually reliant on facts and figures.
Soft news on the other hand looks to blur the lines between information and entertainment: opinion articles, advice columns, celebrity coverage – these are all examples of soft news.
Contrary to popular belief, ‘newsworthy’ topics aren’t solely hard facts and figures, especially in the current media landscape.
Think about popular culture; the Kardashians, Love Island, the Royal Family, the latest updates on the Wagatha Christie trial, it all serves as a form of entertainment while also giving insight and knowledge in the same way that hard news does.
Indeed, people love reading soft news. In every country, younger people are far more likely to be interested in soft news and one in five of these people are more likely to gather their news from social media over any other source of news. While hard news is still the most read news, softer conversations are slowly but surely creeping into our news agendas.
But how do you go from knowing what news you’re going to put out into the world to getting it heard?
What makes your voice stand out
On record, there are currently 5.6 million businesses in the UK alone. Having your voice heard over any other business leader in such a vast pool is a tricky feat – but not impossible. Here are five things to consider if you want to get the press to sit up and listen:
- Say something new: Out of 5.6 million people, it’s likely that you’re going to hold the same opinion to at least someone else who may also be engaging with the media. It’s important that, even if you have the same opinion, you have something new to add to the conversation. A great way to do this is through unique research. Gathering statistics on a certain topic if interest or relevance that no one else has is a sure-fire way to get noticed – especially if your sample size is large (a minimum of 1000 people) and representative of the sector you serve.
- Say something different: There’s always room for a little disagreement. Journalists are always looking for balance in their stories, and so if your opinion goes against the grain then don’t be afraid to share it. Caution must be heeded though, this isn’t an opportunity to say anything derogatory or inflammatory – share your thoughts in a professional, well-rounded manner.
- Say something timely: The adage ‘the early bird catches the worm’ is extremely apt here. If you know that something is happening, or has only just happened, in the news, and you want to put your stamp on, there’s no time like the present. Journalists are flooded with comments within minutes of news breaking, so don’t delay.
- Say something pithy: We’ve all received emails that are more akin to War and Peace, and we all know how loathsome it is to need to trawl through it. Journalists are time-poor, now is not the time to send them a life story. Keep your commentary short and snappy, if you pique their interest, they’ll surely come back for more from you.
- Become a reputable source: This point takes time; you won’t be a go-to source of commentary for a journalist overnight – it takes commitment and impeccable communication. However, the more often you supply new, different, timely and pithy commentary, the more likely a journalist is going to keep coming back to you for help – you make their lives so much easier!
With so many people to compete with, being the one voice a journalist picks over all the others can be a challenge. However, by employing the above to your media pitches, you might be one step closer to clinching a spot in your news outlet of choice.
Need support in getting your business in the press? Contact us to explore how we can best support you.