GEORGE CARLIN said it best: “The caterpillar does all the work, but the butterfly gets all the publicity.” It’s true. Butterflies are just more newsworthy. Most businesses today can appreciate the important role that PR (public relations) plays in building a brand and creating awareness. Generating press, however, can be more difficult than it sounds, but it all starts with making sure your story is a newsworthy butterfly that has something interesting to say. It may seem easy, but what’s newsworthy to you may fall flat when pitched to a reporter. Just working hard or satisfying your customers isn’t newsworthy. Many factors can influence whether a reporter sees a story worth writing about, but if your story idea meets at least two of these criteria, you’ll have a higher chance of success. In my early days in PR, a reporter asked me a simple question I’ll never forget. He asked, “What makes it interesting — right now?” The story you’re pitching needs to be relevant, but it also needs to be timely. Is your company celebrating a milestone anniversary? Do you have a new CEO? Do you offer a product that solves consumer problems that have been in the news this week? Reporters also consider proximity. How close is your event to the publication’s readers or the TV station’s viewers, geographically? If you are opening a new location 250 miles away, your local news media may not be interested. Pitching a story with a novelty factor can also be appealing to news media. When partners in a law firm donate free legal services to those in need, it’s not unusual. When those partners roll up their sleeves to rebuild a family’s home recently destroyed by a storm, that’s unexpected and potentially newsworthy. Make it clear how your story is unexpected. Reporters also consider your story’s significance when they decide whether or not it’s newsworthy. How many people does your story impact? If you’re pitching a story regarding your company’s expansion, it matters whether you are hiring two employees or 200. Even if your company is only hiring two new people, that can still be significant if you connect your new positions to a national trend, like the rising number of successful start-ups that were founded after the flood of corporate layoffs during the recession. Conflict also breeds interest. If you are a business owner with an opinion about a controversial new retail chain coming to town, that could be newsworthy. If you’re in health care and you unite with peers from competing organizations to comment collectively about a controversial component of healthcare reform, that’s definitely newsworthy. Not surprisingly, reporters also like stories with human-interest angles that appeal to the readers’ emotions — joy, sadness or even just amusement. TV news programs, for example, often end on a positive note with a feel-good story. These stories bypass the typical criteria for what makes a story newsworthy. They don’t need to be timely, novel or significant — but they do need to inspire warm, fuzzy feelings for the audience. Help your business generate the press it deserves by making sure your stories are newsworthy, so that your brand gets recognized for its good work. Be the butterfly.
This blog was written by RedRover’s CEO & Founder, Lori Turner-Wilson. Read more about Lori and her unwavering commitment to guaranteed marketing results in her bio.