Mining for content: Six ways to find stories internally

Your fellow employees in other departments can be a great source of interesting, compelling stories for your content.

Content—everyone is looking for it. All organizations have it, yet some don’t know how to unearth it.

PR and communications pros are always on the lookout for good story ideas to spur content creation or media pitches. But although this content is there, it’s not always so easy to pull it out of your organization or your client.

What’s a communicator to do? Try these ideas:

1. Look to your sales team

The sales team can be a great asset to your PR initiatives. Salespeople are the boots on the ground, out in the field talking with customers on a daily basis. They hear how customers are using products, how they’re finding new ways to leverage solutions and how they feel about a brand’s offerings.

One of my best sources of stories to fuel PR has always been my allies in sales. Get to know them. Check in with them regularly to see what tales they have to tell. Salespeople are usually more than happy to share. Use that to your advantage to come up with fresh material.

If you run into challenges getting the sales team to share, I’ve worked with clients who offer incentives for submitting ideas. Some type of bonus can be just the ticket to getting busy salespeople to contribute.

2. Call customer service

While I was in college, one of my part-time jobs was working in customer service. I learned firsthand that when talking with customers, you hear some interesting tales that may make great material for content or pitches.

Check in with your customer service team. Again, as with your sales team, you could offer some small incentive to motivate people to share stories from the front lines.

3. Talk with engineers

The folks who make the products can provide another source of story ideas. Their tales about how a particular product came into being can be fascinating. Engineers love to talk shop, so why not call on them to share some of their stories?

Don’t sell this department short by dismissing it as boring. Even stories considered “nerdy” can be entertaining if you use a little creativity.

4. Share what already exists

Don’t reinvent the wheel. Many brands have material just waiting to be shared. Someone probably has photos of your products in action. Why not use those to help bring a story to life?

Journalists are fans of intriguing visuals because they know they draw more eyeballs. For example, Tweets with images receive more retweets than tweets without images. Provide journalists with a compelling visual and you may win their attention.

5. Make sure you have top-down support

Your communications team should be fed material that can be used to promote the organization, so make sure to get support from the top to encourage all departments to send material your way.

You want your leaders to believe in content marketing and lead the charge. “Leaders can inspire participation and help align people around a common goal,” says MarketingLand.

6. Make contributing easy for everyone

Try setting up an email like where employees can send ideas for stories. Not only does this help you gather nuggets of information, it also makes everyone feel he or she can contribute.

And imagine how they’ll feel when they see one of their ideas featured in a news story, an employee newsletter or another piece of content. The high of seeing one of their ideas brought to life will encourage them to send in even more ideas.

Here’s hoping these ideas will bring new life to your efforts to tell your client’s or organization’s stories! By thinking outside the box and enlisting the help of departments outside marketing, you may be well on your way to unearthing fresh ideas.

Michelle Messenger Garrett is a public relations consultant, speaker and award-winning writer with more than 20 years of agency, corporate, startup and Silicon Valley experience. A version of this article originally appeared on Muck Rack, a service that enables you to find journalists to pitch, build media lists, get press alerts and create coverage reports with social media data.

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