It used to be that all you needed to do was send a press release about your event or program to the local media outlets, and you could count on getting some coverage.
Boy, things sure have changed.
Today, news is immediate. Fewer people are getting their information from traditional news sources; instead they are turning to the Internet, social media, and other digital sources.
The news media and the public have limited attention spans. If they don’t catch your message right away, they are off to something else.
So how can you make sure your information isn’t getting lost in the sea of competing messages? Here are a few tips to help get your news noticed.
Make sure your information is newsworthy.
Help reporters cut through the clutter by providing them with information that is meaningful to their audiences.
- Is your information timely? It should be about something that is happening now or in the future. Not history.
- Is it local? News is about people. How does your information affect your neighbors?
- Is your information useful? For example, can something be done now that could not have been done previously?
- Is the information interesting?
Know your media outlets.
While sharing your message at a meeting could reach 50, 100, or perhaps 500 people, a story in a single newspaper, magazine, or website could reach thousands. To get your information in the news, you need know the reporter and what they are covering.
- Make yourself media savvy — listen, watch, and read. Become familiar with the different types of media outlets in your geographic area. Learn what they cover and what regular columns and features might be the best match for your information.
- Find out what topics are being covered so you can offer related stories.
- Learn the names of local reporters and the subjects they cover. If you want reporters to keep answering your calls and opening your emails, make your news relevant to individual reporters.
Start with a Web page.
Make sure your information is online. This makes it easier for the reader to find out details about your story.
- Post your information on your website.
- Include all of the details, photos, videos, additional resources, and contact information.
- Include a link to this information in all your correspondence about the story.
Create a press release and/or a media pitch.
While a press release or pitch is no longer the go-to method of getting the word out, it should be one of many tools in your toolbox. The release needs to contain the basic who, what, where, when, how, and why. Make the information scannable. And be sure to include a link back to the Web page with all the supporting information.
Develop a complementary newspaper column or blog post.
Take your topic a step further and convert your information into a column or blog post. For example, maybe you are promoting an educational program on how to raise bees in your backyard. Instead of writing the entire column about the program, write the column about one aspect of the program, such as selecting plants that will attract bees, and mention how readers can learn more by attending the upcoming program.
- Be sure to reframe the information from your perspective and include a link to the Web page.
- Remember, you don’t have to have your own blog. Find bloggers who are writing about your topic and submit your post to them for publication.
Promote your content online.
Why rely on others to tell your story? Instead, promote your topic directly to your audience through social media.
- Not all social media is created equal. Make sure you select the appropriate social media tool for your audience.
- Create a campaign to promote a program before, during, and after.
- Use active dialogue to engage your audience. Consider adding questions and polls to get your audience’s opinions.
- Present your information in a thought-provoking way and include photos and videos when it makes sense.
And most importantly, always drive readers back to your online content. Not only will they appreciate having all the details at their fingertips, they might be interested in other content they find on your site as well.