So often, when I am training PR people, especially those working in agencies, they complaint that they’re expected to promote stories which they know are simply not very interesting.
I am a strong advocate of being honest with clients and managing their expectations – ie making it clear that their story is unlikely to get any coverage at all. However, I am aware that very often it is just not possible to consign a poor story to the good old-fashioned the spike.
So the challenge is to find ways to make boring topic more newsworthy. Here are six thoughts:
1.Interrogate your story
Don’t take the story at face value. Ask as many questions about it as you possibly can. There may be an interesting nugget of information hidden somewhere in there which gives the story a fresh and new angle which will appeal to news editors.
2.Is there a relevant peg?
Is “Brown Widget Day” coming up? Is it “National Banana Awareness Day”? Can you link the story to “back to school”, the “ski season” or Halloween? If you can link the story to some kind of timely event, this may give it the boost it needs.
3.Create a stunt
Stunts – sometimes the dafter the better – can secure you good coverage. If you can, come up with an idea which will capture a journalist’s attention, particularly if there are some good pictures attached.
4.Commission a survey
How many stories do you read which are based on surveys or statistics? Come up with three or four cracking questions, survey a specific group in a large enough numbers to be credible, and highlight any which are unusual or interesting in your release.
Read more: A few good story ideas
5.Rope in a celebrity
When I worked on my local paper, we covered everything our local MP did, so asking him to attend an event was a sure-fire way of getting coverage. If you can gain the endorsement or attendance of a celebrity, you are more likely to gain coverage.
Journalists will generally want pictures to go alongside their copy, so some interesting images may well tip the balance in favour of an otherwise boring story.
Of course, there are some stories which will never gain coverage, however inventive you are. With these, best to add them to the website, share them in the internal newsletter, and not risk damaging your relationships with the media by attempting to pitch them.