I recall, as a kid, watching expectantly as the postman marched down the hill to dump copious amounts of letters into our mailbox. After rifling through the stack I was consistently disappointed that none were addressed to me. Whenever I expressed my dismay, my Mom retorted this unwelcome refrain: “You have to write letters to receive letters.”
I think back to this every time I hear someone befuddled with unrealistic expectations for media coverage. After more than a decade in this business I’ve come up with my own smarmy refrain: “You have to create news to receive news coverage.”
To those with great hopes of earning media coverage, and to prevent earned-media hopefuls from having their dreams crushed like an 8-year-old without a pen pal, I offer a simple stress test for newsworthiness.
The three-step test:
1. Scrutinize: What are you doing that is actually newsworthy? Be hard on yourself.
* Is your story or product timely?
* Is it related to a current hot topic or trend?
* Is it NEW?
* Will a significant number of readers/viewers be affected by or interested in this news story?
2. Research: Who will be most interested in your story?
* Who is your target audience?
* What media does your target audience consume?
* Who do you want to cover your story? Have they covered it before? Do you know what types of news they are most interested in covering?
3. Reality Check: Are you putting a fresh coat of paint on an old idea in a desperate attempt to fabricate a new story angle?
If you’re perplexed by any of these questions, you have some work to do. Don’t despair. Just shift your efforts, do your homework, come up with a plan and make some news.