It’s a positive news story…also, no one cares

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So you’ve just spent squillions of dollars on the latest wiz-bang thingummy that’s going to boost your organisation’s capacity by…well let’s just say, a lot. You enthusiastically call the media only to be told (shock horror) they’re not interested in your ground-breaking news.

Don’t be disheartened. More often than not a rejected media opportunity is about the way you pitch it, rather than the actual story itself. The best way to achieve successful media outcomes for positive news stories is to find the human interest angle, which might take a bit of thinking outside the box.

News that isn’t hard hitting, meaning it doesn’t have an adverse, immediate or direct impact on the community, needs to work harder to generate media interest. Think about the good news stories you see in the paper. They generally have two things that grab your attention – a quirky human interest angle and an eye-catching photo that makes you smile.

With this in mind you can start to understand what the media is looking for in a good news story, and therefore, what you need to offer them when you’re pitching positive stories to local media outlets.

First of all, ask yourself how big the story is and who is going to be interested. For example, does it impact the nation, the state, your local community or just your stakeholders? If it’s the latter, consider holding it for the front page of your organisation’s newsletter.

If it has a local focus, think about pitching it to your regional publications and radio stations. They are often screaming out for local content, interviews or photo opportunities. This also has the added benefit of promoting your news to the audiences who need to know about it.

If it’s a statewide story you’ll be competing for space in the three Tasmanian dailies or time on the mainstream news bulletins, so this is where a little creativity will go a long way. If you’ve got a sod turning, a giant cheque or a ribbon cutting ceremony  lined-up, be prepared to whistle and toe tap your way through the press conference and possibly come away with no coverage.

Ask yourself: what’s the bigger picture here? Will it create jobs? Will it boost the economy? Does it have an interesting history? How did it come about? Who will it affect and how? Are there any statistics to support the story? Is there anything unusual about it? Is there a personal background story to support the news event?

Hopefully through this process you will identify some interesting facts and figures as well as a human interest angle. Once you’ve found this the rest of the process will be much easier. The following tips can help to ensure you achieve positive media outcomes:

  • Provide plenty of ‘colour and movement’ for photos and TV vision. If there are no moving pictures, consider pitching a photo story exclusively to print media.
  • Identify a credible and articulate spokesperson who is comfortable in front of the cameras.
  • The media works to constant deadlines, so separate your stakeholder event from your media event so reporters can get everything they need without having to sit through formalities and speeches.
  • Be well prepared and organised with a run sheet, key messages for your spokespeople and any support materials the media might need.
  • When it comes to the pitch, consider targeting the story to a specialist reporter if appropriate.
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