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Five Ways to Piggyback on a News Story
by Marcia Yudkin
The more you understand what media people consider newsworthy, the more easily you’ll be able to obtain media coverage. Provide them with a ready-made story line that is exactly what they’re currently seeking, and then getting featured becomes highly likely.
When national or international news breaks, journalists and broadcasters are not only trying to cover the news, but also to illuminate the implications and impact of what is happening. And that’s where you can help. The media have a never-ending need for organizations, businesses, experts and ordinary individuals to highlight the significance of top stories and trends.
Here are four ways to attract the spotlight by making a connection between you or your offerings and something in the news.
1. Be the local angle for a major news item.
Let’s say you are an accountant in Peoria, Illinois, and one day there are Congressional hearings on a nominee for Treasury Secretary of the U.S. during which a Senator wonders out loud why such a smart, busy professional is doing his own taxes rather than using an accountant. If you heard that news item on the noon broadcast and you phoned the Peoria TV station or newspaper offering to comment, you’d have a very high likelihood of being featured in that night’s news broadcast or the next morning’s newspaper.
When you call a radio or TV
station, ask for the “news desk”; at a
newspaper, ask for the “news department” or
“editorial department.” Be prepared to make your offer in two sentences or less: “In today’s Congressional hearings, there was a question about why the nominee for Treasury Secretary wasn’t having an accountant do his taxes. I’m an accountant here in Peoria, and I have some insights into why some smart people are not so smart when they do their own taxes.” They’ll either connect you to the reporter working on that story or take down your information for a callback in a short while.
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You must act fast and reply immediately for this type of media approach to work.
2. Provide bet-you-didn't-know insights
nationally on a news item. No reason
to keep your expert reply local, of
course. If an ancient dinosaur bone just
got unearthed of a species you specialized in
during graduate school, post a backgrounder on
it on your blog or web site, then write a letter
to the editor of a national paper, a news
release or an email to reporters who handled the
story referring them to your added information.
3. Explain the significance or implications of a trend.
A trend is something that is changing or has changed over time – a general development rather than an isolated event. Understand first that the media may be only vaguely conscious of a trend that you feel is obvious. Understand second that even with a widely publicized trend, the media are always looking for a fresh perspective on it.
For example, with the rise in popularity of video games and the Internet, children aren’t spending as much time outdoors as they used to. That’s a trend. Maybe you’re a pediatrician, and you believe this relates to a rise in asthma rates. Or you’re an optometrist, and you’ve noticed more children coming in for glasses. Or you’re a summer camp that teaches the lost art of outdoor play. These are all valid examples of piggybacking on that trend. You could offer your insights on the trend in a press release or contact media outlets individually in a call or email.
4. Provide inside information on research or statistics.
This is similar to the preceding piggyback method, but here the news hook is the release of new numbers or research results, like unemployment statistics, divorce rates, crime rates, consumer complaints, scientific findings, surveys or polls. To learn about such findings that might not have been well publicized, use Google’s free news alert system at
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5. Volunteer your availability as a source.
Here you don’t have a specific news story in mind but are offering to be on call to comment when a certain kind of event or trend arises. For instance, if your financial firm specializes in advising family businesses, you could contact business magazines and business reporters at radio, TV and newspapers, introducing yourself as someone who can offer commentary when a family business gets into trouble, breaks up or hits the news for some other reason.
Don’t hold back because of the idea that you are not the only person or organization with perspective on the news in question. You may quite literally be the only one who takes the initiative on a given story on a given day. And once you demonstrate your value to a media outlet, you might be called upon in a similar capacity many, many times more.
Copyright 2010 Marcia Yudkin.
All rights reserved. NEXT
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