Five Great News Stories You’re Sitting On Right Now
Smaller companies don’t always have the budget – or inclination –
to retain a PR hotshot to tell the world about their business
success, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t a ready source of
The problem is it’s often dull news which is ignored by all
except the industry press and quite rightly so in most cases. If
you land a contract, you issue a press release. If you take on a
new senior sales rep, you issue a press release. Attending an
exhibition? Press release, natch. These are simply announcements
that you are doing what you do, that it’s business as usual.
With a little lateral thinking, however, you could be issuing
press releases throughout the year which present topics and
subjects that’ll have editors from all disciplines chasing you
for the full story. Below I’ve presented just five brainstormers
to get the creative juices flowing.
- Your Survey Says…Even though I know nothing about your company, the odds are that
you have the time and resources to carry out a survey which could
get you some coverage if it’s implemented and reported properly.
Concentrate on your niche, whether that’s your industry or
expertise. Keep it relatively simple, but ensure the final
results have the potential to grab headlines. For example, if
you’re a butcher, you could ask 100 people if they would give up
bacon if their partner issued an ultimatum. ‘4 Out of 10 Choose
Bacon Over Marriage’ is going to get an editor’s attention!
But be honest about your methodology. If you’ve simply polled a
handful of your colleagues, don’t try to pass it off as a
six-month research project.
Some journalists won’t touch a survey story with a barge poll
unless it’s been carried out with the kind of planning that goes
into a Nasa shuttle launch, but others might find it useful,
particularly if it’s a fun subject and doesn’t take itself too
- Your Opinion CountsSurf the major news sites – try Google News for starters:
Ask yourself what you or your boss would have to say about the
main news stories of the day. Or perhaps a current event impacts
directly on your industry. Pretty soon you’re going to have a
story to tell.
A property solicitor in Scotland did this and the resulting story
is great – here’s the intro:
“Scottish property solicitor criticises Gordon Brown’s tax
A leading Scottish property solicitor has criticised Chancellor
of the Exchequer Gordon Brown’s decision to abolish without
notice the exemption for deprived areas from Stamp Duty Land Tax
(SDLT), saying that the measure would have an adverse impact upon
the commercial property market in Scotland.”
- Your Opinion Counts 2 – Straight to the Editor’s DeskWhile serving as editor of business magazines in the past, there
have been times when PR companies have contacted me following
publication with some kind of gripe regarding coverage of their
company or client.
Disgruntled PR people are often being beaten hard with large
sticks by CEOs and senior management who just don’t ‘get media’,
so their persistence is somewhat understandable.
But 9.98 times out of 10 the PR exec is simply not going to get
what they want – some kind of full-page, front-cover apology and
glowing testimonial signed by the publisher himself printed with
a photo of the editor’s public execution.
Every time I let them down I did say: “Write in – we’re always
keen to receive letters to the editor.” I’d guess one in 20
actually went ahead and did so, but you know what? If every one
of them wrote in I would almost certainly have printed them all.
Good editors embrace transparency – if you disagree with them or
their reporters they’re likely to print your letter.
So pick up copies of your favourite industry – or consumer –
publications and fire off some missives to the editors to
demonstrate your knowledge and expertise in your space.
- Happy BirthdayAt the very most you’re 364 days away from some company milestone
and if you put your mind to it you may find a few anniversaries
just around the corner.
Don’t limit yourself to the xx years since the company was
launched, how about the anniversary of the company’s first
profit, a look back at the day the company took on its 10th
employee, or the date a key contract was secured.
Then tell the tale of how your company has developed since this
date. Be sure to include some drama, the good times and the bad,
and plenty of meaty quotes from the most senior talking heads.
- Make a DateHunt for an angle based on some future date that is covered in
one way or another by local and national press.
Browse some of these major online almanacs for inspiration:
What you’re doing here is following the Happy Birthday strategy,
but looking for external hooks on which to hang your news
Local newspapers in particular like to keep an eye on the
calendar, so if you can provide your neighbourhood newspaper with
a story, photo opportunity or news release and photo package
related to a particular event, celebration or holiday, you could
get some great quality local coverage.
- Only Five?Trawl the internet for reasons to write a press release and
you’ll come up with dozens of lists. Some of them provide 30 plus
reasons to issue a release, but the vast majority of them require
you to have “done something”. They are reactive reasons, rather
The reasons given above can be put into action today – you don’t
have to wait to secure a new contract or make a high-level
appointment to get ink.
You might not have known you were sitting on those news stories,
but there’s no time like the present to tip off the press that
you have them.
Copyright © 2005 George Hopkin
George Hopkin is a freelance journalist and CEO of ClickPress, a free press release distribution service which distributes content to some of the world’s most influential news and web search engines. ClickPress is a property of Pressventures, a provider of free and fee-based services to PR professionals.