What Journalists Want

Take it from someone who worked as a print journalist for over a decade – getting a positive business headline is not rocket science.

In fact, as resources in newsrooms shrink and there are ever greater demands to fill column inches and websites, journalists are more time poor than ever. So they are appreciative of a readymade story landing on their desk.

Here are some tips to getting some column inches for your company.

1: Use a headline number

An announcement including a number helps makes headlines. This could be either new jobs, a large investment or growth data.

The number doesn’t have to be huge – but the attention given to the number will depend on the stage your company is at. For example, a €2million investment by Google wouldn’t make headlines – but the same number invested by a new company in a rural area which is an employment blackspot, would likely get substantial coverage.

2: Include context

Your press release might be big news for you, but how is it big news for the journalist and their readers?

Perhaps your company has created a new product which will help cut greenhouse emissions. If so, include some information and data in your press release around that.

Or if you’re announcing new jobs in an area hit by unemployment, include some information on the expected indirect jobs you will help create.

The more reinforcing data you can supply, the stronger your story.

3: Invest in photographs

A picture tells a thousand words. And it also gets additional column inches.

Companies can be guilty of focusing only on the story and quotes, and forget that there are photographs to accompany every story in print and online. And even when they do remember, they tend to get photographs of the C Suite. Which is often a photo of ‘men in suits’.

But if you put in a little more time and effort into coming up with a good idea, you can grab more coverage.

You can see an example here of a story in the Irish Times about UrbanVolt where the photograph covered as many column inches as the actual story.

4: Choose wisely when you want to send out your press release

Has a ‘PR guru’ told you that mid-week is the best time to announce big news? They’re wrong.

Monday’s newspaper is often one of the hardest to fill as very little happens on a Sunday. Despite being a ‘slow news day’ there are still pages to fill. Unless everyone has the same idea, coverage should be easier come by than during the week.

Equally, don’t announce your big news on a busy news desk as business pages will be given over to general news. You won’t always have forewarning, but if you hear in the morning that Trump has declared war on some unfortunate nation, hold off on your planned release.

5: Pick up the phone

Journalists are just people, so pick up the phone and talk to them. I worked in a national newsroom for over 10 years and once I got a phone call from a PR agency asking for advice on why a press release didn’t get coverage, and what they could do better. Just once in 10 years.

Talk to the journalist who is a specialist in the area you work, and get their advice on press release. Find out if it’s a slow or a busy news week, and if they have any other press releases being sent to them on your planned news day.

If you take the above advice on board, you’re much more likely to land some company some positive coverage.

Sarah Berney