Every PR person gets this question: “How do we get into The Wall Street Journal? Or TechCrunch? The New York Times?” The good news is that although each reporter has a specific beat that he or she covers regularly, there is a formula for what is interesting to top-tier media outlets.
The secret sauce is to understand what is considered “newsworthy.” In other words, what will inspire a reporter to write — and to write positively — about you or your company? It may be helpful to start with what is not newsworthy, so we can rule what not to pitch first:
- Previously announced products, campaigns or predictions.
- Expected ideas or anything related to common sense or what is commonly known.
- Overly self-serving themes related to product and company values.
- Vagueness or claims not backed by facts.
- Having little significance to the reader of the publication or the industry at large.
Now that you have a good understanding of what is not newsworthy, let’s tackle how to get that desired ink in your target publications:
- Unexpected news, happening now (or even better, about to happen) and significantly important for the reader/audience.
- Topics that discuss new products/strategies, new hires, new partners and change in leadership for a company that the reporter knows about or writes about already.
- Contrarian points of view on a topic that is clearly controversial and has strong arguments on both sides. On a related note, this contrarian point of view could including poking at a competitor or industry leader that may be making mistakes.
- Predictions that are unique and viewpoints on “the future of” technologies, industries and markets that will impact a publication’s readers and their lives.
Note: It is the impact of those announcements on key constituencies, including partners, potential partners, customers, markets and employees, that makes the story newsworthy and interesting to the media.
Top-tier business publications (i.e., The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times), will require you to put your A-team in front of the reporter. Your CEO is your best bet, but when he or she is unavailable or speaking about a subject that is not in his or her wheelhouse, go with the most senior person and title possible. Reporters often balk at marketing or sales titles and commonly think those executives will try to pitch them a product, so avoid tapping your CMO or VP of sales if possible. In all honesty, those titles could harm your chances of landing the briefing.
Lastly, relationships still matter. It’s imperative that you utilize your public relations agency for the relationships with reporters they have spent years nurturing. Trust your agency to advise you on what a reporter would (and wouldn’t!) be interested in hearing and writing about. Recognize that you need to tailor your story idea or “pitch” to one specific reporter rather than blasting out one story idea to a slew of reporters hoping that one will stick.
A good next step is taking our self-evaluation quiz, which will take you a minute and will give you even more detailed, personalized recommendations for marketing your business and product.