Getting a journalist to cover your story doesn’t hinge on your connections. Writers aren’t likely to magically discover your company either. To understand how to get a journalist to cover your story, consider there is already someone writing in your topic area. You just need to match the perfect story to the perfect journalist at the perfect time.
This was the topic of a virtual class I gave to Techstars_ and a recent interview I had on The Finding Brave Podcast with Kathy Caprino. One illustration I used got a very favorable reaction. How to get a journalist to cover your story is as simple as playing a game of Memory.
Memory With Journalists?
You remember the card game “memory” right? Players flip over two cards at a time, searching for a match. The better your memory on where cards are, the faster you win. This game is a great visual example of how to get a journalist to cover your story.
Consider two decks of cards. One deck (pictured in blue) represents your company and the incredible stories just waiting to be uncovered. The other deck (pictured in red) represents angles journalists in media entities like TV, radio, podcasts, and print are already writing about and/or interested in.
Writing a perfect pitch email is about matching your best story to the right person. You do that by turning over as many cards as possible.
Matching great stories with great writers
Turning over cards inside your company is an internal comms function. In practice, it looks like spending time listening to your employees and truly getting to know your entire staff’s perspective.
It requires the belief there are truly great stories in your company. The best stories are never obvious and often hidden. (If you don’t believe there are great stories, you are the problem.)
Turning over cards outside your company in media is an external comms function. In practice, it looks like researching journalists and publications, perhaps understanding what they write about, better than they do. It requires knowing what their readers want to write about.
When a great story you overturned inside your company, matches a writer of publication. Pitching the journalist, in this case, doesn’t look like you trying to convince them to write about you, it looks like you providing a resource they were already looking for. This is how to get a journalist to cover your story.
My greatest PR successes come from this exact strategy because it’s truly a win/win. Your company wins because you get great press, and the journalist wins because they get a great story that fits neatly in their wheelhouse.
Failure To Overturn Cards
Problems in pitching arise when you fail to overturn cards internally or externally.
Failure to turn over cards, or stories, in your own company, translates to zero fresh stories to pitch in the first place. Pitches from these companies typically look generic and are selfishly positioned.
Failure to turn over cards, or stories, in media means you irritate journalists with angles they don’t care about. Pitches from these companies typically look out-of-touch and desperate.
How to get a journalist to cover your story
It matters which card you play to any given publication as well. Pitch your Ace to an Ace publication like Wired or The Wall Street Journal. Pitch your local/regional angle to a regional paper. Pitch your in-the-weeds niche angle to a trade publication.
How to get a journalist to cover your story is about overturning more cards. The more cards you overturn, the more angles you have to pitch, and the closer you are to getting some sweet press, and making a journalist’s day.