by Dean S. Goldman, president, Goldman & Associates Public Relations
Ever flipped open the newspaper and found yourself gazing at a large positive and compelling article – about your company’s biggest rival?
Your likely first reaction was gritting your teeth, very hard. Then, you asked the question, both of yourself and of your staff: “Why didn’t the newspaper write about us instead of the other guy?” You may have even lamented that “the media is always writing about the competition, and not about us.”
Why do some companies and organizations seem to constantly show up, favorably, in the news, while others never get near the media spotlight? It’s not just your imagination. Certain companies and people do regularly get covered by the news media, while their rivals go unnoticed. And there’s a reason, but it may not be what you think.
It’s not that these “favored” companies are receiving news coverage in exchange for buying advertising, or that they have some kind of mysterious and powerful “in” with a highly placed media potentate. No, what they have are interesting stories to offer the media, and they’re making sure reporters know about them.
The good news is that your company very likely has just as many great stories — possibly even more — to tell the media. It’s a question of identifying these stories, and then providing them to the news media.
What makes a good news story? Usually, it’s not your company as a whole, because simply the existence of an organization, without the spice of interesting news angles, is just not, well, interesting. Your company’s sales message is also not a news story. You may market your product or service as “the best,” “the lowest priced,” “the fastest,” “the most exciting,” or “the newest.” The media isn’t interested in superlatives; they’re considered to be advertising. Reporters are looking for people, places, events and things, which will often add up in a way that positively expresses your company, product, or service far better than marketing language ever could.
Here’s one example: One of our public relations clients, a chain of garden centers, hoped to receive positive news coverage during the Christmas holiday season, which is, of course, a crucial time in this retail segment. The chain’s products and services were not in themselves newsworthy; any number of other companies were offering the same holiday plants, flowers, and decorations as our client provided.
However, we identified for our client a strong potential news story: a staff member who, for the past quarter-century, had personally tended to 10,000 poinsettias each year, nurturing and readying the red, white, pink, and burgundy plants for the company to offer for sale during the holidays. We suggested this story to the news media. The result was a large article with color photos in the local newspaper that, in profiling the employee, spoke volumes about the quality and beauty of our client’s poinsettias at precisely the time of year the public was interested in purchasing them.
A second example: An auto glass repair and replacement chain already well known in its home region wanted to establish a national reputation. In our initial meeting with the client, we soon identified several interesting angles to the story.The company’s founder and top executive was a woman. This was quite unusual for the predominantly male auto glass industry, but, frankly, not unusual enough to attract national media. We found, though, that there was something that would most definitely intrigue them. Prior to launching the glass company, the founder had spent more than a decade as a registered nurse. The story of her career change, and how she grew her initial one-person windshield repair business into a multi-million dollar chain, was clearly a winner. USA Today thought so, too, and featured our client in a large profile story.
So how do you identify potential news stories within your company?
Think about the following:
- Has your company developed a service, product, or concept put into practice that’s new or different within your industry?
- Does someone on your staff have unusual expertise or an interesting background?
- Has your company signed a new contract that will lead to new jobs, acquired a new location, or created an unusual partnership to achieve business goals?
- Are the national news media currently covering an issue that your company could comment on from a local perspective to the local media?
- Is your firm especially involved in some kind of compelling community service work?
Any of these things, and many more, could make for a good story, and great news media exposure for your company.
If you’re a high-level executive, you may not have time to internally survey your company to identify these news opportunities. Your marketing staff could take on this responsibility or you could seek assistance from a professional public relations firm.
Of course, once you’ve identified your company’s many great news stories, the next step is letting the media know about them. If you’d like to find out more, please contact our firm at (757) 625-2518.