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How to pitch to the media

How to manage the modern media landscape

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll have noticed the media landscape has undergone a significant transformation, our Director Fran Lawrence discusses how to manage these changes.

Less than two decades ago, there were distinct channels for media coverage. Print was print, TV was TV, radio was radio, and rarely did any of them cross over.

Today, media organisations work across multiple platforms. They promote, publish and seek stories across Twitter and Facebook; they use audio, video and animated infographics to support features; they actively encourage the submission of news tips, photographs and leads from the general public via websites and social media.

Even that most traditional of media organisations, the newspaper, now has online news divisions, podcasts and video journalists.

Alongside all of this, we’ve also seen the rise of so-called ‘citizen journalists’, bloggers and a range of online sites dedicated to political news, sport, property, finance and a host of other specialised areas.

In an increasingly crowded landscape, the number of voices predicting the end of traditional media have been growing louder.

But here’s the thing: media’s not dead.

It’s not the same proposition it was a decade ago, or even five years ago – it’s evolving, it looks different and it feels different – but it’s very much alive, and its reach is bigger than ever before.

The flipside is that journalists are increasingly time poor. The days of long lunches, meeting contacts for coffee, and even getting out of the office are long gone.

From filing one or two stories a day for tomorrow’s paper or tonight’s broadcast, they’re now filing those two stories, plus different versions for online, and updating the online versions throughout the day as events change.

So what does all this mean for a business trying to get their story out?

The ‘spray and pray’ approach to pitching a story ­– sending a standard press release to as many outlets and news desks as possible in the hope someone will pick it up and run it – has never offered great odds on success.

In today’s brave new media world, it’s as dead as disco.

If you’re going to cut through the noise, and stand out from an inbox crammed with press releases, it’s more important than ever before to make sure you’re selling your story the right way, to the right person.

This is where expert advice can be invaluable. If you want to get your story into the press, it’s well worth enlisting professional assistance to make sure you give yourself the best possible chance of success.

More often than not, there’s a sizable gap between what a business thinks is newsworthy and what a journalist would consider a story. While you may believe your new product, award win or boardroom deal is big news, the reality is it’s competing against a dozen others just like it every day for that time-poor journalist’s attention.

Engaging a communications consultant who can think like a journalist, find the newsworthy angle, craft a strong story and pitch it directly to the relevant reporter – and offer the right supporting images, research or interview talent to back it up – can make all the difference between getting your name in lights and seeing your story disappear without a splash.

A good consultant can help to put your story into context, link it to an industry issue or trend, or dig out a newsworthy angle you didn’t know you had.

In the brave new media world, they can also help to turn a press release into a blog post, push out the story through social media channels and your website, and find different angles that might work for different media outlets – making sure you get the maximum value from your news, and from your investment in promoting it.

Above all, they’ll make sure yours is the story that cuts through the clutter and has the best chance of getting a run. In the increasingly competitive and crowded media landscape, that’s worth its weight in gold.