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How to Pitch Stories Like a Journalist
Guidelines to better manage the media.
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 by Mark Macias
Author: Beat the Press

Mark MaciasIt's the one question every PR person wants to answer. How do the news producers and newspaper editors decide what to broadcast and print? 

Most people ask this question like there is a magical formula that scientifically reveals whether a story should be pursed or scrapped. If it were this easy to identify news stories, you can bet the formula would have been hacked and posted on the Internet by now. The fact is news selection is an art and just like any other profession involving creativity, opinions and experiences, it is subjective to where you stand.

If you want a story written about you or your business, you need to first identify what is different, new or unique about your story. News is based on the root "new" so you must find out what is new about your idea before you pitch it to the media. Are you helping underprivileged children in a way that others are ignoring? Is your business contributing to the local community in a unique way we might not expect? Are you about to accomplish a feat where others have failed?

The more you can clarify and focus your pitch, the better odds you will have of getting your story idea approved by the news organization. You can help discover your newsworthy element by asking yourself the following questions:

  • What is different about my business?

  • How does my business help the public and why is that service unique?

  • Is there something timely about my business or product?

  • Is there a personal story to tell about my business, like maybe a grandfather is passing the 75-year-old family business onto his grandchildren in a public ceremony? Or maybe the owner is battling cancer and running the business at the same time.

  • Is there a new trend arising in my business field that will affect the pocket books of consumers? For example, is the rising cost of wheat starting to put a damper on profits for bagel shop or Italian restaurant owners? Will my business soon be forced to raise prices on the menus because the price of wheat keeps rising?

  • Have any trade organizations recognized my business as a leader in innovation that will help shape the future? If so, what is that innovation and how will it change lives?

Finding a unique angle is not as difficult as it may sound. You just need to open your mind to timely events that impact and influence sales of your product or service. If you own a fashion or jewelry store, try to link your product to high-profile events like the Academy Awards or the Grammy Awards. If your business is geared towards a niche audience, like traveling business executives, scan the headlines in the business sections of various newspapers for possible tie-ins to current events.

The more you understand the definition and value of "newsworthy" the better chance you will have of getting media coverage for you or your business. And once you are successfully pitching story ideas, you are better able to shape the message and spin the media into your favor.

Mark Macias has been an Executive Producer with WNBC 
and Senior Producer with WCBS in New York, sitting in early 
morning meetings where stories are pursued or killed. He is author 
of the book, Beat the Press: Your Guide to Managing the Media.
You can read more chapter excerpts at:

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