Scope Insights

Brand story | Media relations

What makes a story … a story?

Innovative new products, staff announcements, achievements, brand partnerships … there are lots of exciting happenings within an organisation, many of which you would love to shout from the rooftops.

But when is a business story a public news story?

If you have a story within your organisation, chances are it can reach your audience through either mainstream media or your own channels.

Getting your story published or told in the media is the ultimate goal. However, stories of commercial interest are often regarded as low priority for media, so you need to have a great pitch when fronting up to a journalist. It also pays to have a Plan B and think of your organisation as your own publishing house.

Here’s a step-by-step guide for deciding what to do with your company news:

Step 1

Consider the newsworthiness. Think critically if your news will be of interest to a) the general public, b) a specific audience, or c) stakeholders or people connected to your organisation. This will determine if you should approach media or release your news in-house.

News needs at least one (preferably more) of the following elements:

  • Impact – how does this information affect people? How many people does it affect? (The more, the better)
  • Timeliness – why is this relevant right now?
  • Proximity – why is this important for people in our area? Why do they need to know?
  • Human interest – is there a story about a particular person/animal that people can connect with?
  • Conflict – is there conflict involved? What are the opposing points of view?
  • Weird and wonderful – is there something quirky and fun, supported by great imagery?
  • Celebrity – high-profile names and celebrities always increase the newsworthiness of a story.

Step 2

If you answered a) or b) – investigate media outlets and select where you would ideally like your story to go by doing your research and aligning the media outlet’s audience with your own.

Depending on the strength of the story, it may be best to adopt a “scattergun” approach and produce a media release distributed to multiple outlets in the hopes of achieving mass coverage.

Other stories are best suited to a “sniper rifle” approach. This means you craft your story pitch for one specific media outlet as an exclusive (meaning you will not reveal the story to any other media before their story runs – this includes your website and social media channels).

Step 3

A media release needs to be prepared and distributed by a professional public relations and communications consultancy – the media landscape is constantly changing, as are the human resources within it. A professional consultancy such as Scope Communications has access to an up-to-the-minute database of media contacts within New Zealand and Australia.

Further to this, journalists can sometimes disregard emails from businesses and organisations, and a media release or story pitch directly from a known PR professional – presented as a ‘story on a plate’ – can instantly up the chances of success.

Step 4

If you decide to go with the aforementioned “sniper rifle” story pitch approach – get started on your spiel.

In this pitch you need to develop a strong angle of your story, detailing why it’s important and how it will be of interest to the media outlet’s audience. Include the crucial details of who, what, when, why and how.

Don’t forget to include images, video content (if applicable) and contact details for your media spokesperson.

Step 5

Journalists are more time-pressed and under-resourced than ever before, so it may take a while to receive a response. Depending on the timeliness and urgency of your story, follow up with a short email or phone call.

Step 6

If your story is declined by mainstream media, you have two options: pay for ‘sponsored content’ or publish the story yourself.

To do this, write a blog about your news. You might need to make some copy adjustments for SEO keywords (and don’t forget the other SEO elements like meta descriptions, links, headers, etc). Once the blog is uploaded to your website, consider how you will amplify it: include a link from your homepage, promote it on your next EDM and share it on your social media channels.

Step 7
Analyse and compare the results. By looking into your Google Analytics you can decode what your audience wants to learn about in your industry. Perhaps they want to hear more about how you make your products or your staff? Or your market commentary? This will provide valuable insights into what makes a “story” for your business, and what your audience wants to know.

Written By Rebecca Williamson
An accomplished journalist, writer and editor, Rebecca has worked on some of NZ’s top-selling magazines – including Woman’s Day, CLEO and Good Health – and knows how to craft compelling copy to get your company or organisation noticed. As a PR strategist and skilled storyteller, Bec’s day-to-day varies from creating effective communications plans and newsworthy media releases to editing bespoke publications and achieving high-value TV, print and online media coverage for Scope Media partners. She also has a knack for the digital space – specifically, how to boost a brand’s online presence, and writing SEO-loaded web copy, blogs and thought leadership articles that people want to read and engage with.

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About Scope Communications

Scope Communications is a boutique marketing communications consultancy that specialises in digital PR. The consultancy helps brands gain visibility through the power of authentic storytelling, personal connections and digital insights. Scope Communications offers strategic communications, crisis communications and reputation management, community engagement and stakeholder relations, digital PR, media relations and media releases, editorial and special publications, website copywriting for SEO and digital advertising.