Contacting the Media
What makes a News Story?
First, figure out whether you have a newsworthy story to tell. Is it timely?
Significant? Is there a local angle? Is there a human interest or interesting
visual? In short, news is about people and what they do or how current
events/issues affect their lives.
- A news story must also answer the five W’s of journalism: Who, What, When, Where and Why, and more importantly How?
- When deciding what story to pitch to the media, be clear as to why your story is news and why “others” should care.
- Remember reporters report on news that will be of interest to the general public.
If you decide to contact a reporter or news outlet to pitch a story idea:
- Be concise.
- Be able to sum up the news worthiness of your story in two sentences.
You should follow up with facts.
- Make your story relevant; connect it to local/national issues.
- Don’t pitch a story to more than one assignment desk or reporter at the same outlet.
- Be clear as to why your story is news.
When to call a Press Conference
Press conferences take a great deal of time, energy and resources, and the
media doesn’t always respond. Before you opt for a press conference, ask
yourself the following:
- What advantage does the press conference offer reporters who attend?
- Does the press conference offer reporters access to key figures and/or experts that would normally be difficult for a report to reach?
- Can the reporter write the story without attending the press conference?
If your answer to the last question is ‘yes’, you may want to consider an
alternatives to a press conference, such as press releases, reporter round
tables, press tours, one-one meetings with key reporters or editorial boards.
Press conferences are best used to respond to “breaking news” or to provide
journalists with access to information, people and organizations that may not
be easily accessible to reporters.