One of the most perplexing things in the world of media relations is why news outlets pick up some stories but not others.
Here are five reasons why your news release or pitch never made it to print:
1. It wasn’t newsworthy.
It can be a hard pill to swallow when your client or boss is convinced every decision, meeting and new hire warrants a news release. News releases are easy deliverables, and certainly useful on your company’s website and for SEO purposes, but if you’re going to forward it to the media in hopes of landing coverage, remember the basic elements that make something newsworthy:
- Impact or significance: The news directly affects a large number of people in your community.
- Timeliness: The event is current or has a recent development.
- Prominence: The news involves a well-known individual or group of individuals.
- Proximity: The news hits close to home for the audience.
- Uniqueness: The story is rare, unusual or even bizarre.
- Conflict: The news involves controversy or disagreement in the community.
- Human interest: The news appeals to emotions. Human interest stories are usually feel-good content.
If your news release doesn’t contain one of these elements, don’t send it.
2. You sent it to the wrong person.
There’s a lot of turnover in the media, and contacts are always moving on to other outlets. Make sure you keep lists up to date, either with software or good old-fashioned research. It never hurts to check Twitter or call the newsroom to confirm that your contact is still the go-to. It’s also a great way to check in and give the reporter a head’s up that something is coming her way.
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3. You sent it to the right person, but he or she doesn’t know you.
Producers and editors get anywhere from dozens to hundreds of news releases and pitches each day. Assuming you paid attention to Nos. 1 and 2, your information is more likely to get attention if the recipient recognizes your name.
Make it a point to get to know the people on your media list. Invite them for drinks or a meal, send them birthday cards and cards for promotions, and take interest in their lives. Old-fashioned communication tactics are dying, which makes sincere relationships more valuable. Don’t wait until you need something to reach out. Be proactive!
4. It was full of grammatical errors.
No one is going to read anything that isn’t grammatically correct, much less publish it. The same goes for punctuation and spelling. Sure, we’re all human, but we’re also communications professionals. People expect accuracy. Get at least one other person to give the pitch a look before you hit send.
5. The headline or subject line wasn’t creative.
The headline or subject line is a great opportunity to not only summarize, but pique interest. Use it to your advantage. Boring headlines, or worse, headlines that aren’t relevant, get passed over. Make them informative and interesting. It can seem like a mundane task, but it makes all the difference.
These are just a few reasons why news outlets don’t cover stories, but with attention to accuracy and great relationships, there’s nothing you can’t accomplish.
Do you have any additional reasons why the media might not pick up a story? Share them in the comments.
Amanda Kane is a writer and publicist in Santa Fe. Amanda is the principal of Game Face Public Relations, a sports publicity agency. A version of this article originally appeared on Muck Rack, a service that enables you to find journalists by searching their bios, tweets, and articles.