Every day, consumers are inundated with tens of thousands of marketing messages. When making decisions about the products they’re purchasing, your target audience is often looking to journalists, bloggers, and other influencers for credible information.
In a 2014 Nielsen study, earned media ranked 80% more effective than branded content at influencing consumers who were considering a purchase.
However, earning media can be difficult for brands. Journalists are scanning pitch after pitch, looking for stories that will be interesting or of service to their particular audience.
“We have to get beyond the ‘great’ company or businessperson façade,” said freelance business journalist Gwen Moran (@GwenMoran) during a ProfNet Twitter #ConnectChat.
Instead, PR professionals need to focus on who the audience is for each journalist they’re pitching. What are their needs and why would a story matter to them.
Here are six types of stories your brand should start telling that Moran and other journalists are looking for.
Innovation That Solves A Consumer Need
Is your company the next eBay, Amazon or Uber? Will your products and services change the way people go about their day?
Moran’s goal in writing an article is to surprise and inform. “I owe it to readers to make the story worth their time.” Journalists are looking for innovative solutions to the problems their audiences are facing (or — even better — an emerging problem they don’t yet know they’re facing).
“There really are people out there making the world a better place,” she said. If your brand has a product or service that will make journalists pause, tell that story.
Unique Ways Your Company Addresses Workplace Issues
“So many of us spend a good part of our lives working,” said Moran. “Some fascinating things are going on in the workplace – good and bad.”
What problems does your company face on a daily basis and are you doing something unique to solve them?
Many companies – both in and outside of your industry – are likely facing similar challenges, and there are journalists out there who are covering these trends.
For instance, Moran said, employee engagement is currently one of the most important issues facing businesses. “The disconnect between companies that need committed, productive employees and their inability to foster them is a problem. We’re seeing all sorts of consulting and theory around how to bridge the gap. We need more attention paid to fostering diversity. Some are taking it seriously, but not nearly enough.”
Look to both your company’s leaders and your employees to see if there’s a story in how they handle different business needs.
Your Company’s Culture and Values
What motivates your company’s employees – why do they want to work and stay there? Start looking into what makes your people tick – pride in their work, a supportive community, how the company develops tomorrow’s leaders.
“At companies with great stories, it’s rarely about the paycheck or the profit,” says Moran. “What are their values? It may be to make money — that’s okay. Why is that a value? Look at where they’re focusing their efforts. That tells you a lot about what’s important to them.”
How Your Company Gives Back to the Community
Your brand is probably already issuing news about your latest philanthropic or corporate social responsibility initiative. However, are you doing it in a way that readers will care about?
As with any good story, you need to do some digging to answer the question that will inevitably be on your audience’s minds: “So what?”
Start with why your business gives back and why you give back to particular organizations. Perhaps there’s a unique connection between the mission of your business and the cause you support. Or focus on the people helped by your contributions and the challenges they face.
Your Company’s Failures
Everyone likes an underdog. If you made a mistake and learned from it, show how your company triumphed over the situation. “Stories are most interesting when business owners show warts,” says Moran. It’s possible that the lessons you learned can help other businesses and even your customers.
What Your Employees Do When They’re Not on the Clock
Finally, there’s no need to constrain your brand’s stories to what your employees do when they’re in the office. Connect with your coworkers on LinkedIn or — better yet — talk to them. Learn about their specializations and their interests. A community superhero or industry influencer may be hiding in your midst.
It’s not easy landing on a story idea that will resonate with the media you reach out to, and finding an interesting hook is only half of it. Read our white paper Five Keys to Crafting Press Releases that Drive ‘Earned Media’ to learn more about creating engaging content that journalists want.
Amanda Hicken is senior manager of strategic content at PR Newswire. Follow her on Twitter @ADHicken for tweets about the media, marketing, Cleveland, and comic books.