You need to get the word out. But how can you catch a reporter’s attention? In a recent post I shared 3 things to keep in mind to catch and keep a reporter’s attention:

  1. Make It Personal, But Don’t Take It Personally
  2. Know Your Target And Know Your Audience
  3. Three Simple Words: What’s The Headline?

Here are 3 more tactics to keep press releases front and center on the news desk.

4. Give Me the Goods

How can you make your story pitch stand out in the crowd? It’s not about facts and figures, though those must be included. It’s always about the story to be told.

Give the reporter the goods.  Why should I care? What is the local angle? Who are the compelling figures? Are there surprises? Is it a trend piece? If so, who are the people dramatically illustrating the trend? Who can, I, the reader, relate to and root for? If you’re offering useful tips, who has benefited? Who can serve as an emotional hook to tell and sell the story?

It is essential to provide good contact information for anyone featured (including expert voices). Also, be sure to mention photo, video, or social-media possibilities. A busy journalist may move on to the next idea if important information is not readily available with your pitch.

If the media outlet is smaller, directly providing photos, statistics, or other elements with your pitch may seal the deal.

Bigger organizations prefer to know about coverage in advance so they can do the bulk of the work themselves. One thing they don’t like: being told about a great story or event after the fact. Give news outlets proper notice. They will be more likely to schedule the coverage you want and may include photos and other bells and whistles, too.

5. Can You Hide the Pickle?

Sometimes when we pitch a story, we give away too many details, leaving nothing to the imagination. Is there a pickle you can hide to leave your media target wanting to know more? Holding something back, teasing a detail, might be the hook that reels in a busy journalist.

Here is a published example that reflects hiding the pickle.

Bugs hit windshields all the time. But a bighorn sheep? It happened.

This is a make-me-look approach that doesn’t tell the whole story, but instead sparks curiosity.

6. Explain it To Me Like I am a 6-Year-Old

In the 1993 movie “Philadelphia,” the lawyer portrayed by Denzel Washington repeatedly uses this line: “I want you to explain it to me like I am a 6-year-old.”

If you are pitching a story with complicated ideas or insider info, this is a great approach to take with members of the press and public alike. Make sure the information you are offering can be easily digested by anyone, not just you and those in the industry or in the know.

What Works for You?

I’ve got three more tips to share, but I’ll save those for next time. Remember, I’m not the only person with best practices to share. Many of you helmed the news desk before joining our industry. Have a tip of your own? Add it in the comments below. Thanks!