Five reasons your story wasn’t picked up

Apr 08, 2014
Five reasons your story wasn’t picked up

One of the most perplexing things in the world of media relations is why some stories are picked up and why others aren’t.

Here are five reasons why your news release or pitch never made it to print.

1. It wasn’t newsworthy. This can be a hard pill to swallow when your client or boss is constantly convinced that every single decision, meeting and new hire warrants a news release. News releases are easy deliverables and they’re certainly useful on your company’s website and for SEO purposes, but if you’re going to forward it to the media in hope of generating coverage, remember the basic elements that make something newsworthy:

  • Impact or significance – It directly affects a large number of people in your community.
  • Timeliness – The event is current, or if it wasn’t, there is a recent development.
  • Prominence – The news involves a well-known individual, or group of individuals.
  • Proximity – The news hits close to home for the audience.
  • Unusual – The story is rare, unique or even bizarre.
  • Conflict – The news involves controversy or disagreement in the community.
  • Human Interest – These are stories that appeal to emotions, usually the “feel good” content.

If your news release doesn’t contain one of these elements, don’t send it.

2. You sent it to the wrong person. There’s a lot of turnover in the media, and contacts are always moving on to other outlets. Make sure you keep lists up to date, either with software or good old fashioned research. It never hurts to check Twitter or call the newsroom to confirm that your contact is still the go-to. It’s also a great way to check in, and give them the head’s up that something is coming their way.

3. You sent it to the right person, but he or she doesn’t know you. Producers and editors get anywhere from dozens to hundreds of news releases and pitches each day. Assuming you paid attention to number one and number two, your information is more likely to get attention if the recipient recognizes your name. Make it a point to get to know the people on your media list. Invite them for drinks or a meal, send them birthday cards and cards for promotions, take interest in their lives. Old fashioned communication tactics are dying, making sincere relationships more valuable. And don’t wait until you need something to reach out! Be proactive.

4. It was full of grammatical errors. No one is going to read anything that isn’t grammatically correct, much less publish it. The same goes for punctuation and spelling. Sure we’re all human, but we’re also communications professionals. Accuracy is expected. Be sure to get at least one additional pair of eyes to give it another look before you hit send.

5. The headline or subject line wasn’t creative. The headline or subject line is a great opportunity to not only summarize, but to pique interest–use it to your advantage. Boring headlines, or worse, headlines that aren’t relevant, get passed over. Make them informative and interesting. I know it can seem like a mundane task, but it really makes all the difference.

These are just a few of the common reasons why stories aren’t covered, but with attention to accuracy, and great relationships, there’s nothing you can’t accomplish.

Have additional reasons a story might not be picked up by the media? Share them in the comments!

Amanda Kane is a writer and publicist in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Amanda is the principal of Game Face Public Relations, a sports publicity agency that works with professional athletes and their agents to develop winning personal branding strategies. Amanda's work in public relations has been honored with several Cumbre Awards from the New Mexico chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, and in 2009, New Mexico Business Weekly recognized her on their annual 40 Under 40 list. You can follow her on Twitter at @TheMandiKane.

Photo: Office garbage via Shutterstock

About the author

Communicator with the spirit of Don Draper, the swagger of Ari Gold, and the gut of Olivia Pope.

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