How to Study the News to Learn What Is Press Worthy
Following yesterday’s lesson, you should now have a list of business objectives, moments across the year you want to promote, a target audience, and a target media list (that matches your audience).
Today, we are going to learn how to study your target publications.
Where to Start?
On a basic level, you must read the magazine or newspaper or listen to the radio show/watch the news. This sounds like I’m teaching you how to eat eggs, right?
Wrong. So many people write to a journalist without even having the courtesy of checking what it is they write about. Have you ever received an unsolicited email or phone call selling you something personally or for your business that is completely irrelevant? I’m sure you have, and you will know how annoying it feels.
Rather than trying to get in every single title, I would recommend picking your top five titles and taking the time to focus on what opportunities are there for you. Flick through the pages and tear out the columns you think might fit you or your business to be featured. Tip: I create a folder with different sections for my clients, e.g., tearsheets of food products, entrepreneur interviews, interesting features, etc.
Check every day, every week, every month—however many times the publication appears—to see if the columns or the writers change. You need to be as much of an expert in your target media as you are in your business.
You will get as much out of this as you put in, and it’s less time than you think. Take 20 minutes off Facebook browsing and read.
Once you know your media, you can assess the criteria and create a tick list to make sure your business fits. For example, notice if the article:
• only features new products
• only features women
• only features businesses smaller/larger than 50 people
Whatever the criteria of your story or business, make sure it fits where you are looking to be featured.
Word of warning: I’ve had entrepreneurs in the past say to us, “No one has covered our story on how great we are,” or, “We have made a branded video about what we think about XX, please get some news coverage of this.” Please tell me when you have seen a story on how great a brand is that wasn’t an advert? Or when you last saw a branded video story get news coverage? One hundred percent, do have pride in your own business, but don’t let your ego mistake you into thinking that it’s of interest to a journalist. I would constantly ask myself: Is this a story and why is it relevant now? (We’ll talk more about this in Lesson 5.)
Game of Snap
Match what is interesting about you, your business, or service with each title.
It could very well be different depending on the title you speak to—e.g., a business publication will be interested in the financial stats/growth, but a regional publication might be more interested in how you are providing employment locally. A product placement page will often feature the product and stockist information but won’t be interested in the “why” you created a product.
Another thing you should do is spying. For example, if I grab a national newspaper now, I can’t stop spying placed stories. In the news section at the front, whenever I spot a research story or an interesting picture story, I often check to see where else it has gone.
Comment, letter, and opinion columns are often great examples of people raising their profile. Have a look at the sorts of things these people are talking about, and it will help spark ideas for what you want to talk about.
This is more than a quick ten-minute hobby, I’m afraid, but if you read ten minutes every day, you, too, can become a media expert in your field.
Tomorrow, we will talk about how you can build a database of key journalists from the sheets you pulled out.
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