17 June 2015
Behind every press release, there is a story. That’s what one of my colleagues used to say, and I have always remembered it. Often, the release would just be an excuse to make a call to a contact and probe for some real news. It was always worth making a call to get a new or different angle on the story too – something that rivals would not have; and a quote that was not lifted straight from the press release.
Things are different today with the web being the broadcast medium for stories rather than print and getting the story out there is usually more important than getting a new slant on it. But in some sectors (mobile especially and comms to a certain extent, and some particular channel websites), the old adage that there is some kind of story behind the official line, rings true. It is certainly still the case that once you have broken a story the journalist is in control, not you. You can’t make them run the story in exactly the way that you want them to; they will use the information as they see fit for their website or publication, and for their readers.
The best thing you can do is present the story in a form that is easy to read and spells out the relevance to their readers loud and clear. Channel media are not interested in carrying your messages to the market. But they are well aware that you are trying to use media to do just that. Your message then, has to say something worth repeating to their readers.
That said, channel media need new stories every day; they do also want you to keep feeding them with information, and (most of them) will be balanced in their approach. But quite rightly, it’s their readers they really care about.
In the end, the deal has to work for everyone. The journalist has to get a good story that the audience will want to read, and you have to get your messages through in some way. Keep that in mind from the start and you’ll have a much better chance of getting some coverage.