Useful tips for getting press coverage
The Leveson Inquiry might be unearthing all sorts of skeletons in media cupboards as well as unfairly giving many honest journalists a bad name, but I can see the fascination.
To those on the outside, Fleet Street (and local newspapers or magazines, for that matter) moves in mysterious ways. Why do some stories get published while others never see the light of day? Who decides what goes in the paper?
This is important for businesses trying to get press coverage, because free exposure in the news pages is worth far more than paid-for advertising.
Is all publicity good publicity? One company I work with recently found itself in the public eye, cited in a pretty negative context. Nevertheless the phone was soon buzzing with calls from new customers.
The thing is, you cannot just ‘place’ a story because you want some free coverage about your latest offer. Sorry, but there it is.
Here are a few tips to clear up some common confusion. We don’t know everything, but we do have 20+ years of Fleet Street experience (without a single phone hack or backhander to a copper, in case you were wondering but were too polite to ask.)
- You can’t ‘place’ a story about your special offer unless you pay to do so.
- Editorial is the word for all the news stories and features that make up any publication. They’re written by journalists (sometimes from a press release) and they are there on merit: they must have a new, unusual or topical angle to interest readers.
- Advertorial is paid for. You get to write what you like and see it appear as an ‘advertising promotion,’ but you’re paying the ad sales department for the privilege.
- By the way, ‘an editorial’ (as opposed to just ‘editorial’) is another word for the leader column that appears in the paper or magazine’s comment pages and expresses its opinion on a matter of the day. It is written by the editor or leader writer.
- If you’re aiming to get in the news pages, you’ll have to come up with a human story: something bright, different or timely. Involving people, maybe with a charity element, including a relevant picture and above all, interesting. News is all about people – that’s your golden rule.
- Call the publication’s news desk or email a press release. Always follow up with a call to check that ‘they have all they need’ so you can jog their memory and make sure your story doesn’t get overlooked among dozens of others.
I’ll be blogging soon on how to come up with ideas for press releases.