What Journalists Want

If you want to know what gets a journalist buzzing then read on. If your story doesn’t meet at least one of the criteria featured, go back to the drawing board.

Conflict – When you go home tonight and watch the news I guarantee that apart from the fluffy good news piece at the end, just about every story in the news is likely to contain some element of conflict: war, politics, big corporate vs little guy, murder, violence, cheating and the list goes on. Conflict makes news, that’s a fact. But of course, we don’t want our story to be one of conflict so keep reading for more ideas. 

Access to good spokespeople – an emphasis on ‘access’ and ‘good’. Journalists have deadlines and quite often they are hot on a story which will stop dead if the spokesperson is not available. Journalists want access to good spokespeople – that’s people relatively high up in the organization, have significant knowledge of their company or the issue at hand who have good media interview skills. If you put forward the story and you don’t have access to a good spokesperson, it’s highly likely the story won’t even get written. If it’s a story that the journo is investigating and you don’t have access to a good spokesperson, then you are just sending that journalist to your competitor. 

Exclusives – journalists want exclusives or first exclusives but only if it’s going to help sell their paper or get more viewers/listeners. If it’s a story that is likely to be in a section at the back of a newspaper, it’s probably not important enough to negotiate an exclusive. 

Revolutionary/change – something that will change the way we think or live. Enough said. 

Celebrity profile – go on, try to open a women’s magazine that doesn’t feature a celebrity, I dare you. OK so Miley isn’t our desired spokesperson but find the right one (and ensure they are the right fit) and you may just have a winner. 

Good quotes – if a quote from a person high up in an organisation is compelling enough, the media will run it. Think predictions, trends, breaking news…… 

Great photographs – how many times have you stopped to look at a story because of the photograph? People will notice a visual first, then headline, then text. 

Road Testing – (current affair style specials) X brand washing powder vs Y brand washing powder. However, to put this forward you must be confident with your product. 

Proximity/ Local angle significance – Let’s use an overseas event as an example – if there is an Aussie involved you can guarantee the story will get covered here. Think local which could be suburb, city, state or national. 

Warning – this could happen if…… 

Timely – use what is currently in the news to propel your story further.

Apply at least one of these to every media pitch to give you story more news value.