What makes a good story?

June 25, 2019By Paula ElliottInsights

How do I get into the nationals and what makes a good story are questions that I am repeatedly asked by clients all over the world who are keen to gain exposure, particularly with broadcast media. Well, last week we held our C8 event at the BFI in Stephens Street in Central London, with the aim of answering these questions.

C8 Networking Event - The Disruptive Tech PR AgencyWe had a great line up of panellists that included Zoe Kleinman from the BBC, Paul McNamara from Channel 4 News, Christine Horton, a freelance B2B tech reporter and David Bicknell, a technology analyst at Global Data. We grilled all four with a number of questions, starting with “what makes a good story?” Below I’ve summarised their collective responses:

Top 5 tips on what makes a good story

  • A good top line, case study, and a great image
  • Think about the audience, but remember that a good story is a good story
  • A strong story that is specific to the readership and audience
  • It is news, so be the first one with the story, then mine that story for the detail – journalists want to cover the story before their rival newspapers/broadcasters do
  • But, most important, before you pick up the phone and pitch your story make sure that you can cover off the basics, the what, when, why, where, who – the devil really is in the detail

The conversation moved onto discussing the best way to pitch a story and there was unanimous agreement from our journalists that being able to talk to the key person, to get more information, was critical. Press releases are fine, but journalists need the bigger picture to get the story, they need to talk to a person who is close to the announcement; a subject matter expert who understands its relevance. The panellists also stressed the importance of providing the full package, with imagery and case studies that show the impact the story has on real people and/or organisations. Timing is also important and likewise it is also essential to keep an eye on other news hitting the media that might overshadow your story (For example, think Cambridge Analytica).

Be authentic and connect with your audience

In the B2B tech space it can be challenging to provide newsworthy stories that will have broad appeal. The top tips from our reporters included:

  1. Step outside of your position as a tech vendor, think about what will get your audience interested
  2. Sometimes less is more – keep it simple
  3. Put yourself forward as an expert for commentary and rapid response should a story be trending (For example the cyber security specialist)
  4. Journalists rarely report on a product pitch

C8 Networking - How to engage the media with a good storyTalk to journalists with authenticity, have conviction about your pitch and be available when the story is breaking and the journalist wants to talk to you. Think about the setting, where applicable be dramatic – journalists like a bit of drama, this makes it interesting to hear and broadcast on TV.

Build trusted relationships

And finally, build a relationship. Journalists will go to key people that they have a relationship with during a quiet news week or day, so make sure that you have built a relationship with key reporters in your space, one that is based on trust.

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