What makes producers, assignment editors and reporters ‘bite’ on a story?

The chief executive of Institute of Communication Agencies Gillian Graham once argued that weak economic times are the worst time to cut advertising spending:

“It has been proven that those who cut spending in these times will exacerbate their revenue challenges and ultimately, lose share.”

As with any statistics and most research, results are interpreted.

What the studies referred to above don’t do is compare revenue results if time and money is invested in advertising, versus less money invested and energy put toward getting free editorial.

In tough economic times, I’d argue, some of the advertising budget can be much better invested in publicity efforts. For far less money, clients can get more column inches, more airtime, more online presence and more visibility.337248947_f1eadc7cc0

To get massive publicity coverage, you need:

  1. someone who’s a huge media consumer, across all media
  2. a kickass, current media database
  3. a ‘hook’ – why this story now? why should readers/viewers/listeners care?
  4. a high-level (ideally, top) person who:
    • will make significant time available to do media interviews, and will be willing to prioritize last-minute media requests for the length of the campaign push
    • is a ‘good talker’ – articulate, energetic, can speak concisely, uses anecdotes/storytelling, and can translate more complex topics to layperson language
  5. someone other than your interviewee, to be the ‘pitch’ person
  6. great-quality visuals, minimum 300 dpi for most newspapers
  7. most of the publicity effort going to crafting individual media pitches
  8. a media relations professional who:
    • has created and executed many campaigns
    • genuinely believes in the cause, the event or the product that they are pitching
    • ideally has worked as a journalist or producer themselves



In tough economic times, directing money to free editorial via publicity is the route to go.


photo by Altemark

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