How to Make Headlines

Like all PR practitioners, I’m working hard to get press for my organization. Unfortunately, what worked only a few years ago, doesn’t work as well today.

Recently one of my staff attended a meeting in D.C. about what editors/producers and reporters want from non-governmental organizations. Many of their answers probably will ring true for your organization as well.

As an international organization, we’re more likely to get our story out when a disaster strikes. It’s sad, but true. It’s when the media and the public are paying attention.

Taking this a step further, it means finding the trends in news. Afghanistan is hot right now. Does your company have any connection? Do you make a product that is used by the military? Now is the time to push that story.

We all know that there are fewer and fewer reporters. Those that remain are overworked and underpaid. So when you e-mail them, be succinct. For many, the only thing they read is the subject line of the e-mail. To get the e-mail read, you’re going to have to write a short sales pitch in that subject line to catch the reporter’s attention. Then add a few details in the body of the e-mail and your contact information.

A successful media hit may not be the printed newspaper. It may be the mainstream media’s digital side, whether it’s the Web site or their blog. My organization had a hit with the LA Times art blog, and we were delighted. Of course, we’d all still like to see the story in print, but it’s time to shift our focus.

How have you been successful in getting press coverage?

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