By Dan Pittman, Pittman PR
OneOC Consultant Advisory Group Member
So you want to see your story in the news, but not sure how to make the magic happen.
Well, you’re not alone. These days, reporters receive about a zillion story pitches via email, Twitter, telephone and even snail mail from well-meaning nonprofits with great stories to tell just like yours. To stand the best chance of seeing your story in the news, here are a few steps to consider:
Be a news consumer. Watching the local TV news and reading the area newspapers will give you an idea of what’s newsworthy in the minds of the media. Look for stories about other nonprofits assisting the same population as you do. What was compelling about the work they did that caught the attention of the press?
Know the media you’re targeting. To get coverage for your upcoming event or issue related to your nonprofit, simply read, watch or listen to the media outlets you plan to pitch. Note who the reporters are and find how out to contact them by checking out their websites or obtaining a current media list. If you don't take the time and interest to know what they cover and how they write their stories, you are at a disadvantage.
Is it a real story? Have you’ve ever read a news story like the one you’re pitching? If they haven’t covered stories like yours before, they likely won’t start now.
Organize your thoughts. You will only have a brief moment or two to tell your story, so do the legwork first. What are the most important details (that is, who, what, when, where and how)? What was the impact? What was unique about what happened? Be prepared to give the reporter what he or she needs, the first time. Have your experts ready to talk.
Be prepared to be told no, but don’t get discouraged. Your story may not fit the news hole today. Keep trying to earn coverage on other story ideas by staying in touch with the reporters you have targeted. And never argue with the media about why they won’t cover your story or complain that other nonprofits get more coverage. You’ll never win and may close off other future story opportunities.