How to get into the news
By Rebecca Colvin
June 5th, 2023
Did you know that the news constantly seeks new information, creates content, and feeds it to the masses in multiple ways, including websites, social media, email, TV, radio, newspapers, and magazines?
News coverage has the power to get your business instant exposure to a massive audience.
There are stories about people and businesses every day.
So how do you get the news to do a story about you or something you are trying to advertise?
The news is ALWAYS on the hunt for information relevant to the audience they reach. There is a good chance they might want news tips from you.
If news reaches out to you first, that is probably your best bet, but even then it's still not guaranteed to make the cut.
If you are the one reaching out to the news, the first thing a reporter is going to want to know is what is the angle. Why is this information news? Is it useful for the audience you are trying to get in front of? Is it local? New? Special? Are people going to care about it? What's in it for the people reading it? If you don't know this clearly enough, you might want to think about that more before contacting them.
If you use some of the strategies to get your information into the news, I recommend that you have a plan already set up to capitalize on your exposure. This can look like gathering emails through your website content or providing an offer in person or on social media.
It helps to share your news article with your followers through email, and social media, frame the article, and hang it on the wall of your establishment. Have a plan in place to capture new leads that are researching you.
You don't have to do something sensational to get into the news.
If you follow these tips that have worked for me to get information into the news, your chances for success will be increased for some free news coverage.
5 insider tips to get into the news
1 - Submit a press release
Include your name, phone number, business name, website, and any other relevant contact or links to relevant information across the top to help the reporter or editor looking at it get back to you easier. Each news media outlet, whether it be radio, tv or newspaper, or whatever, should have a website with a contact us or a news submission form.
Fill that out with all your info, and be sure to tell them why your news is important. If they are interested, you should hear back fairly quickly, and then you can get their email to send your press release to them directly or they might call you to set up an interview, and hopefully, this all leads to a story eventually being published or broadcasted.
Your press release should be summarized. The longer it goes on, the better the chances it will not be used due to space and time restrictions. Be careful about adding links or attachments; your email might not even be read when it goes straight to the junk or spam folder. The way to know if this happened or not is to call the place you are trying to get the info to, and ask if they got your email. You could also ask in your email that they let you know if they received it ok, if it's possible to get it in, and if they need anything else from you. Following up one time to get a confirmation that yes or no they got it, is OK!
2 - Write a story yourself and submit it to the news
This must be typed out in an editable Word document, preferably emailed. DO NOT write it out by hand and mail it. Some people actually do this, it's not time efficient for reporters to re-type your story.
If you can include some photos, people like to read stories with pictures. If you can save a reporter time by finding relevant images for your reader-submitted article, that will increase your odds they will pick up your story.
If reporters only need to do minor edits, your story it's way more likely to run than something they have to take a long time to re-write themselves.
Do not give them any sales pitches in your press release, or your information might be transferred to the paid advertising department.
Stick to informational, conversational tones. Refer to tip #1 on how to find the right person to send your story to and follow up that it was received. You can also offer your expert advice or provide information in a field you are good at; they keep a list to call on experts when needed for story quotes.
3 - Keep your eyes peeled for news submission requests.
Best of Business, Letter to the Editor, Business Spotlight, On the Move, and Volunteer Spotlights, are all examples of reader-submitted content. Most news outlets have something like this. For instance, at the Greeley Tribune, any business in Greeley can submit 50 words written by them; if there is room, they will run it on the cover of the Business section. It can include a photo or a logo, a business name, an owner's name, how long they've been in business, a phone number, and a website. They will usually let you run these spotlights every six months when they have the room.
4 - Collaboration
I would suggest you read, watch or listen to news platforms, follow reporters relevant to your news submission, and contact them for a submission request. Look on their website for the mainline and ask to be transferred to them by name. When you get them on the phone, be ready to summarize why you're calling pretty quickly. Reporters are working on deadlines and are very busy.
Do try to build a rapport and be nice, but never try to bribe them; they have ethical rules to follow. They won't accept gifts or favors in trade for a story. Being respectful goes a long way to encourage cooperation, though! Reporters & Publishers are overloaded with so much information, they can get picky about what stories to pick up. These stories need to go viral, for the livelihood of the whole team.
5 - Calendars
News has a list of things to do and other calendars available to anyone to submit events for free, or for a very low cost. This adds value to readers when they can find things to do easier. I've noticed my submissions to calendars rarely are rejected and they run from the time I post it to the date of the event. These are much easier to get in unless you are trying to advertise something that isn't local; then your listing might show up online but not in print. Sometimes you must submit the event info via email to have it added to the printed calendars, and you must also submit the online calendar info separately to have it appear in print and online. Sometimes news will pick a few from the online calendar themselves to run in print calendars. To submit calendar information, you will need to include an event description, date, location, times, cost, contact phone, and email. Sometimes you can upload or have a photo or logo and your website.
Those are my five expert tips to get into the news!
If you tried all of the above and it didn't work or the reporter you're talking to transfers you to the advertising department because they felt your pitch was a little too sale-sy, be nice to the advertising rep; they could be your greatest asset to have at a news company.
If you have information that MUST get in, be open-minded. You could do a native advertising campaign! This is a form of paid content marketing. The better "advertorials" we can do make it look just like a genuine article so you can't tell the difference except for the disclaimer you have to put on that says it's been paid for.
The content will be your own or written by a professional writer to make it look just like an actual news article, and the bonus is, you can get it in the news when you want to. Other benefits you don't get with free stories, are you get to see it, revise it, and approve it. And it's guaranteed to be published wherever you choose!
About the author:
Rebecca Colvin is the founder of Boudica Marketing. She started her own company after leaving the corporate news publishing world to offer a better array of services to her clients in a one-stop shop that includes all things digital & e-commerce.
Want to work with Boudica? Set up a free consult here.