Here is a good rule of thumb to follow when searching for a story angle to present to the media. Ask yourself this question: Will the readers of this publication think this is interesting, entertaining, informative or useful?
Self-interested, veiled attempts at promoting your business will fall flat. The media does not care about your companyís success unless their readers care about it. The media does not care about your new product unless you can help them understand how their readers are longing to know about the problems it solves.
The following is a list of topics that can help you get a reporterís attention. If you can find a way to position your potential story ideas using one of these vehicles, you will have a better chance of success.
Have Real News
There is nothing that gets the mediaís attention like news. Now, what you think is news may not actually be newsworthy, but if you have won a significant contract or licensed a new technology you may indeed have a story that provides a reporter with a news angle.
Everyone seems fascinated with things that are first: the first company to feature a technology, the first company to do a certain type of project, the first company in the area to win a national award, etc. Of course, there are ways to be a new kind of first. The first woman- or minority-owned business in your industry to do something of note is also a first.
Sometimes you can receive positive publicity by simply doing or offering something that is unique. An unheard-of guarantee, service technicians in tuxedos, balloon telegrams for marketing are all examples of unique practices.
Local Angles on National Stories
If some aspect of your business is making national headlines, you may be able to weigh in with the local media on a local angle of the story. Local news reporters often prefer to quote local sources even when they are covering a national story. Has some legislation recently passed that impacts your industry? Has a major lawsuit been settled? Is a new product, service, or innovation receiving coverage? It is critical that you watch the national news trends to stay on top of these opportunities.
Ties to a Trend
Your association and industry publications often report on industry and marketing trends. Reporters love to get a jump on a coming trend. You can put yourself in the middle of a story by simply pointing out something that may be happening in other parts of the country that ties your company or product to a recognized trend.
Everyone loves a story with a great ending. If you personally or your firm has overcome some adversity, this may be a great source for a story.
Promotions, new hires, awards, board appointments, wedding, births, and all other manner of story that involves people in your firm and what they do on and off the job can be a good source for story ideas. Maybe your companyís softball team hasnít won or lost a game in 10 years. Maybe your firm has repaired eight houses for a charitable organization this year. Perhaps your firm has college tuition reimbursement program that is far better than most, and you have four new college graduates at the firm to prove it.
Solving a Common Problem
If you have discovered a unique way to solve a problem that your target market has or that impacts other firms in your same industry, you may have a story idea. Business publications in particular are always on the look out for innovative business practices. Donít just think in terms of some solution to a client need. Maybe youíve discovered a successful way to attract prospective employees. These stories will often be read by potential clients and really help tell how your firm is different. In addition, it is easy to show how these types of stories can benefit the readership of a publication without appearing too self-serving.
John Jantsch is a veteran marketing coach, award winning blogger and author of Duct Tape Marketing: The World's Most Practical Small Business Marketing Guide published by Thomas Nelson - due out in the fall of 2006
He is the creator of the Duct Tape Marketing small business marketing system. You can find more information by visiting http://www.ducttapemarketing.com