So why won’t you cover MY story?

Used to hear versions of this every day when I was still working the field. How come you’re covering THAT story? Why don’t you do some GOOD news? I called your station and they won’t cover (insert grand opening of brother’s store, daughter’s ballet recital, whatever…here).

So I’m about to give away some dirty little secrets and (if you listen carefully) some pretty solid tips on how to get a bit of broadcast news coverage. All of the following is pretty much verbatim in answer to a request from a member of my husband’s church. She had a friend who was opening a fitness center. From any angle (except a few of mine) a non-news story. One word. Boring. But here’s what I suggested.

If I knew how to make the media do anything, I would. But there are ways to get to the top of the pile for consideration. Realize that every day every media outlet has hundreds if not thousands of requests to cover events. The trick is to make it topical – current and of interest to a wider audience. Make the media WANT to come.

My first thought was…oh no (remember, I’m a slug) not another fitness center. THEN I saw it was located right next to Donut King and got a chuckle out of that. Also…seeing that one of the classes has already been featured on ABC (nationally or locally????) is a plus. There is interest in anything new and unusual.

So…you need to plan your strategy, remembering even then that it is hit or miss. And even if you do get a call saying they may come to do the story…a breaking news story will cancel any plans.

Do NOT push this as a grand opening. The interest is more in what is new and different. I don’t know the hours for your grand opening or if they would allow media in before (a day or two)…but you might consider aiming at the morning shows. There isn’t a lot of news happening at 5am most days, so if you offer a live crew an opportunity to send the reporter in to sweat it out and learn how to use the new gear or learn a new movement (reporter participation is good), then you may get a crew down. If you contact the Record you should have the same pitch…although they are more likely to cover a class after the fact than a grand opening. The business of news media is to provide information and to some extent entertainment…which is why I recommend selling the story in some way other than “a store is opening up.”

Send your first release out about two weeks before the event (email or snail mail). Follow up a few days later with a short phone call – “Hi, just checking to see if you got the information on the fitness center and their new (equipment) and (whatever the class is). If you’re interested in doing an early live shot, we’d be glad to have your crew test out the (class and/or equpment). Keep it short…and the best times to call are 5:30am-8:30am, then 9:30 to 11am, then 1pm to 4pm. Why? If you call during or near the time a show begins (with the exception of daybreak news) they won’t really be listening to you. If they are abrupt it may mean they are dealing with a lot of pressure due to breaking news or changes in the schedule. Yeah…lotsa stress in a broadcast newsroom.

Whatever you send out – KEEP IT SIMPLE. The “5 Ws.” Who, What, When, Where, Why. Plus a SHORT graph with your pitch.

All it took was a bit of planning…and the daybreak “happy talk” news show in the area bit – hook and line – and her friend’s store was a star for a brief moment in the market.

Lesson to remember: news departments don’t have to come to your event. Their job is to provide a service to a wider community…in the case of TV stations is is generally regional. Their job is to provide news and information that are meaningful to the lives of their audience. Your little store opening or dancing daughter only has meaning to a small group of people. In order to get your story to the top of the food chain you have to provide an angle that will make it more palatable to the assignment editor and of interest to a larger audience. Good luck with that.

9 thoughts on “So why won’t you cover MY story?

  1. Yeah…kinda gave that to her when she first brought it up. Everyone seems to think the biz owes them free time on air. But I kinda knew that GDS would bite. Ick.

  2. I love this post. I had the same experience when I worked at a regional TV station in Germany. Some people don’t even ask but EXPECT you to come. “So there’s this event we’re having next Sunday, when will you be there?”
    One women was highly shocked when I told her we wouldn’t attend the re-opening of the kindergarten after it’s renovation. Some also couldn’t understand that we didn’t have an endless resource of vjs and that some stories are just not interesting🙂
    But I think this post is not only interesting for the audience, but also for journalists, when you tell to think about unusual and new aspects regarding a certain topic. I think that’s even important when a story is already interesting: starting with an unusual or new aspect or even building up the whole story on it.
    Best vj-wishes from Birmingham🙂

  3. Had another bit of success…local cop called. His son made third in the state in a wrestling competition. I suggested he call the same happy talk morning show and offer to wrestle the anchors. He did and got four or five on-air hits taking down one of the on-air folks.

  4. A major company ( B.F. Goodrich tire company) hired this disabled vet ( undiagnosed at the time) and did a pre-mployment physical with spine x-ray that I have i, they placed me on a very heavy laboring job, I was injured within months, I then discovered they hired me with a class ” C” spine x-ray which is a industrial classification and a no hire x-ray for heavy labor. I will take a polygraph attesting to the fact I did not know about it. I was using my GI bill at the time and had a promising future. The company Dr breached his hippocratic oath and the atty let the statute run on everyone, I reported him to the bar and they assigned an atty to pursue him for legal malpractice but he had no insurance but he lost his job. I picketd the front of the dr, atty and company with an incriminating sign. Then when I had surgery the equipment installed in my back was never approved by the FDA for the reason it was used and destroyed the quality of my life. One of the screws was pressing on my nerves ( nerve damage) took 5 years to get a Dr willing to risk taking it out. Diagnosis was failure of equipment made by Sofamor Danek. We filed suit against sofamor danek for promoting its off label use, the federal judge threw the case out saying the equipment was not bent or broke. At the same time my 100% service connected injury PTSD was diagnosed. Before this I discovered employers did not want to hire me so I educated myself about the EEOC and the Americans with dissabilities act and caught an employer discriminating because of my back, filed complaint with EEOC who investigated and issues a Right to sue letter, The federal judge threw that case out saying I was not disabled with that equipment in my back.
    The legal and medical abuse with the severe PTSD wrecked my life and I lost everything and bankrupted on 70,000.00 I was taken off my job as an RN working at a desk sometime ago. I never got any help to this day. How can our wounded vets heal with dignity and honor when their country does this to them. I was stripped of all my rights and my health and seeking some type of justice, the torment was so bad I wrote a book about it ” A War Of Nerves” http://www.greghardin.com

  5. Greg – I strong recommend you get in touch with your county CVSO – Veterans Service Officer. They are there to help you work your way through the maze of bureaucracy. In Alameda County go to this site: http://www.cacvso.org/page/2011-1-18-22-alameda-county/
    I can neither endorse your book or ban it. But I do know that CVSOs do their best every day to help vetrerans (my husband just retired after a fourteen year term doing the job in San Joaquin county).

    Where did you find these statistics? The worst thing about the Internet is that anyone can find anything they want to use to support their opinion. It is more important that you find a reputable site than one that leans your way. The truth hurts…but in the long run it is better to hear the truth than to believe lies.

    1. My story is true and does not involve anything I can not prove, The problem is not with the V.A, it is with the legal and medical system failing me multiple times stripping me of my constitutional rights, civil rights, all my money, livelihood and my ability to help myself. It is highly unlikely the V.A can regain my rights when the statutes have run. This does not mean someone will not help me, I would never ask what I would not consider doing myself if I am able. You can get a transcript of what Pat Robertson said about the federal judges and the only other stat was Alabama is ranked 6th in corruption. I proved the corruption in my book otherwise someone would file suit against me. Can we afford to deny our wounded vets the very liberty and justice we were defending for all?

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