Can’t get news media coverage for your organization? This is why.

Guest blog post by Kevin Benz
has more than 25 years of experience as a broadcast journalist, news director, videographer and reporter. He also launched two of the most innovative media companies in the country — News 8 Austin (now Spectrum News), a 24-hour local news channel; and CultureMap Austin, the most read digital lifestyle magazine of the city.

You’ve heard the saying “Everybody’s got a story.” Well it’s true- it’s just that some stories are better than others. What’s yours?

We can probably all agree that when it comes to promoting your organization — nonprofits and small businesses in particular — getting on the news is important. There is no more cost-effective way to reach a lot of people fast. Earned media (getting on the news) is free and the audience is huge. For small organizations with tiny marketing budgets, there is no better choice.

Earning Your Media

I hear you — “Yeah, that’s great, Kevin, but I can’t get anyone to do a story about me.” Two problems here:

  • First, you should never assume anyone wants to do a story just about you.
  • Second, see above.

If you can’t get the news to pay attention, you might have the wrong story, one that’s not very interesting to them.

Fixing the first issue is fodder for another blog. So today, let’s talk about developing “your story.”

Most organizations don’t spend enough time talking about stories. Your leadership is obligated to work  on strategic plans, goal-setting and mission statements. That stuff is important of course, but if you want people outside of your organization (like the news media) to care about you, you need a story. So, what’s that?

Finding Your Story

When I start consulting with businesses and nonprofits, I talk a lot about “brand-building” – how your organization lives your customer-facing brand. By doing this, you create benefits for your business such as:

  • Client/customer loyalty
  • Consistent donor/investor support
  • Positive emotional responses when potential customers think of you
  • Proven value to your customers

All these components  build “equity” that can be cashed in when things later go wrong. In many ways, your brand is your story.

What does all of this have to do with getting news media attention? Journalists are always looking for good stories. One significant criteria for reporters is how important the story is to the community they serve. That means, to get their attention, you need to be important. Of course, you already know you are important, but your story needs to prove it.

Your story can be any number of things — it can be what you do for your clients, your start-up story, the passion that keeps you going day-in and day-out, the problem you solve for your community or society, but it MUST be interesting, and you MUST live it every day, and you MUST be able to tell it consistently.

Tying It All Together

When we start working on your story in our workshops, we start with three questions. The first is the most important — What problem do you solve?

Note that the question is singular. What single problem do you solve for your customers, clients and/or community? This applies to any business or nonprofit organization. If you can’t explain why you exist, you have no story and no one, especially the news media, will be interested.

Remember, your story is not your mission statement (that’s for your team) and it’s not a strategic plan (that’s for your leadership). Your story, your brand, is who you are to your customers and clients. How do you make their lives better? What problem do you solve for them? If you can answer that question with passion, you will have a great story — one that the news media will be interested in. Now get out there and tell it!

Want to dig deeper to develop your media pitch? Join me for Media & Messaging, a one-day intensive designed to equip you with the skills you need to gain media coverage and tell your story with confidence.

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