I keep seeing over-optimistic blogs talking about the guaranteed ways to get your story covered by the conventional media.
It worries me; even if you follow these guides there are still things that will get in your way.
So why isn't your story featured? These are my top 6 reasons.
1) It's Too Commercial.
No one likes a 'puff' dressed up as a story. In the UK the dominant force in mass market news broadcasting is the BBC. They are a non commercial organisation and every journalist / producer / manager there has been bollocked for writing a 'puff' by accident. They are not going to do it again.
You may think that makes the commercial broadcasters and news media an easy target. No. No they really aren't. The commercial media (if it doesn't charge the users) survives by selling advertising. So why are they going to offer your commercial 'story' space when they would much prefer to charge you for the advertising instead?
2) It's Irrelevant...
...to the audience. Why would you approach an organisation that targets the over 50's with the latest trends in snowboarding?
...to the time scale. If it happened 3 days / weeks / months ago it's no longer news. (as added by @tonybraisby many thanks to him for the reminder!)
...to anyone outside your industry. Target trade press by all means but don't promise to get mass media coverage for the story about new ways to reinforce concrete.
...to anyone other than you. So many self produced press releases smell of "we're really excited about this, but we don't know how to make you excited". If you can't excite me then I'm not going to use it.
3) It's Dull.
Have you just sent information and forgotten to add a story? (see above)
4) It's political.
The BBC will not take stories with a strong political bias unless they can source someone from the other side; that issue kills stories, though it is getting better.
The commercial sector will not ally themselves to a political standpoint that differs from theirs. It's not just the feedback from the audience but also who sits on the board, who owns the organisation, who is married to the editor and who their friends are... For example, the Sun newspaper doesn't like the BBC unless the programme has been made by a Murdoch owned production company (see Masterchef). It's unlikely that you'll know any of this, your story will just be ignored.
5) They don't like you.
Not the organisation but the journalist. You've repeatedly called at the wrong time, you send emails with big attachments that crash their computers, you call the 'Pacific Ocean' the 'Specific Ocean', you never sound engaged with what you're doing, you push for too much coverage, you have unrealistic expectations, you don't know the producers name, you're attempting to be funny, you're not funny at all, you have stupid shoes, you drink mineral water with a twist, you have black rimmed 'marketing' spectacles, you don't understand that we are the powerful ones, you let us down last time, you promise things that you can't deliver, and (in the words of @dabberdave)
"you said "look at this attachment which has all the details in it" rather than copy and pasting the text of the it into the body of the email; that way when the journo is skimming through the hundreds in the inbox they don't have to waste time trying to open the thing. It will probably go straight in the waste bin"Or, you are just very unlikeable... The story could be great, and we may pick it up from another source, but we won't give you the satisfaction.
6) Someone Else Got It Right.
There's always something else to cover. Always.
6 - a) They're Lazy.
This has been suggested by Ken Goodwin and really deserves a mention - "they might also be a lazy journo who can't see that with some creativity they could make a half decent package out of it"
So very true....
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