We tell a lot of stories. Whether you work in public relations, media, marketing, corporate communications or internal comms, as communicators today we create or help tell stories across more platforms than ever before. Those stories go far beyond the traditional press release to include blogs, newsletters, social media posts, YouTube videos, Facebook Live events and op-eds to more cutting edge fields like augmented reality or leveraging new voice technology to quite literally tell stories through Alexa. Still, we continually find ourselves trapped within a traditional editorial perspective that says such and such story is best told on this or that platform. To get more mileage out of those stories, though, we need to apply an integrated marketing lens that helps us see where they can be told elsewhere to great effect. With that in mind, let’s explore how you can turn a blog post or similar story into a story pitch to the media and why you would want to do that.
SUCCESSFUL BLOG POSTS VALIDATE FUTURE MEDIA PITCHES
A good story trumps everything else. That remains just as true for your corporate blog as it does for reporters, regardless of whether they work in print, broadcast or the growing grey area in between. And while the question of whether a story qualifies as “good” or not may be subjective, fortunately we live in a time offering no shortage of quantitative data to help make that determination.
Dig into your blog and social media analytics to see which blog posts received the greatest number of clicks, likes and shares or scored the longest view time on the page. While not a perfect strategy, this can quickly tell you which stories on your blog people actually respond to and want to read. It can also inform you of which stories a reporter or editor could respond to and that initial evidence helps validate the story’s potential as a future news report or feature.
Once upon a time, reporters would immediately dismiss a story that had already been shared on a company’s blog or social media channels. Today, many reporters actually seek out successful blog or social media posts as evidence of interest in a topic. They want people to click on their stories as well and in the current ocean of content generated each and every day, that evidence helps qualify a story for broader consumption. Those reporters also recognize that even though you have already told the story, it’s new to their much larger audience.
UNDERSTANDING THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BLOG POSTS AND MEDIA PITCHES
Blog posts and media pitches both tell stories, but a media pitch does it faster, shorter and stronger. Basically, if you want to pitch the media, respect their time. The ratio of public relations professionals to journalists has grown to six-to-one, meaning today’s reporters get A LOT of pitches and long pitches quickly find their way to the virtual trash can. In short, don’t copy/paste your blog post into an email pitch to reporters.
To repurpose an existing blog post as a media pitch, revisit the blog and identify the core story within it. What’s the conflict? Who are the characters? What’s the resolution? And why should people care? Reporters communicate news by telling stories, so eliminate all the fluff and corporate messaging within your blog and tell them the story quickly and concisely. How concise? Try to reduce that 1,000 word blog post into a two-sentence media pitch that encapsulates the entire story and leaves the reader wanting to hear more. If you can do that well, the reporter will immediately recognize a strong story and know whether they can build on that story for their audience.
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TAILOR YOUR PITCH TO THE RIGHT REPORTERS
Remember that not every story is a story for every reporter. Before you send that pitch, try to identify reporters who would naturally be interested. If they focus on a specific subject area, that narrows things down, but go beyond that. Was there a great visual element that made your blog post a success? That could translate to a stronger newspaper or magazine story. Does the blog lend itself strongly to video storytelling? Think like a TV reporter. Does everything revolve around a certain sound or the weight of someone’s words? Yes, radio. It’s not that radio reporters won’t tell a story that would be better as a newspaper report, but you’re already making it harder for them to tell a successful story. Instead, you want to make it easy for that reporter to tell a GREAT story.
LOOKING BEYOND THE MEDIA PITCH
Now as you revisit your blog to mine for potential media pitches, you will begin to see how you can retell your own stories on other platforms you already own. That’s part of the magic of an integrated content marketing strategy. Maybe that LinkedIn post can be expanded into a full blog post of its own. A Facebook Live conversation could potentially make a great written Q&A. A TV reporter could do magic with one of your stories on their broadcast, but you could do the same on your YouTube channel or podcast. Over time you’ll catch up with yourself and begin to integrate that perspective into your story ideation and editorial meetings on the front end where you identify all of the potential platforms where a story can be told well long before you even begin to tell it.