Tips for looking for stories

As we said in our last blog, public relations incorporates a whole range of activities and processes. This involves telling stories - or getting other people to tell them - to help make your business more successful and fulfil its aims. One of the best ways to spread these stories is to get them into the media - whether this is the local or national media, television or radio.

Of course, a good way to get the media to take notice of your story is to send them a press release. But how do you tell what stories the media and - more importantly - the people reading, watching or listening are going to find interesting?

You’re probably more interesting than you think...

Lots of people don’t realise how newsworthy their business is. There are a couple of common reasons for this. First of all, when you are deeply immersed in something and working hard at it every day it’s difficult to step back dispassionately and look at it through someone else’s eyes. It becomes the norm. Think of how many stories you read of doctors or nurses or other heroic people who say they are ‘just doing their job’. Of course they are, but their job is still amazing to everyone else, it’s just normal to them because they do it all the time.

You’re more interesting than you think

Secondly, as a business owner you are constantly trying to make your business better. This means that even if you achieve something noteworthy, you only give yourself the briefest pat on the back before ploughing into the next thing. It isn’t always easy to realise just what you’ve achieved when you're focused so much on the future.

The starting point for finding stories is to take the time to ask what it is you do that’s special and what you have achieved. Try and look at things as an outsider and ask yourself what they might ask about your business. There will probably be a lot more to say than you think at first.

News is people

The most powerful news stories are always those about people; whether it’s what people are doing, what’s happening to them, or a big issue which is going to affect them.

This is also a good place to start when you’re looking for stories you can tell about your business. What stories can you tell about the people who work for you? Are you appointing any new people to your staff? What difference is your business making to people’s lives?

What’s new?

News is called ‘news’ for a reason. It’s hard to convince the media to write about a product you released a year ago. Make sure that you’re planning ahead to put out stories as and when things happen. If a member of staff has run an ultramarathon and raised thousands for charity, then let the media know straight away rather than waiting a month. Maybe you’ve got something important to say about a national news story. Whatever you’ve got to say, it risks getting more and more irrelevant as time passes.

When it comes to news there is no time like the present!

Who cares?

No-one is interested in a story they don’t care about. And often whether anybody cares about a story or not depends on how you present it.

Say you’ve won a contract supplying widgets to a national engineering company. That’s great news for you, but is it that exciting for everyone else? Well, it might be if you think about how to tell the story in the right way.

What will the widgets be used for? If they’re going into life-saving medical equipment, then that’s definitely a much more interesting story. What does the contract mean for the business? Does it mean you’ll be able to grow and create jobs? If so, then the story is instantly about much more than just widgets; it’s about people.

When people see a story about your business you want them to feel something. You definitely don’t want them to be bored! Take time to look at potential stories as though you are a member of the public and ask: ‘How does that make me feel?’ If you’re not excited, then how can you expect them to be?

Nothing going on? Make something up

Sometimes news doesn’t happen on its own. Of course, we’re not really saying that you should just invent something out of thin air. But what you can do is plan to hold events or run campaigns that are newsworthy.

Can you run open days or health and wellbeing events for local people? Can you do outreach work to teach local school children about your industry and what it does? Can you run a series of webinars for businesses? Could you hold a year of fundraising activities for a particular charity?

All of this can help generate valuable coverage, as well as having countless other benefits for your business, staff and the world in general.

Every picture tells a story

How often do you read every word of a news report right to the end? If the answer is ‘never’ then you’re not alone. Most people only read the first few paragraphs, but everybody looks at the pictures.

Pictures can create a much more immediate emotional reaction than words. Pictures of people are particularly good at this. A great picture can grab people’s attention away from all the other news stories they are bombarded with each day and make them focus on yours.

Striking pictures make people take notice

So, you’re running a music festival in the Lake District. Is it more compelling to show a picture of your headline band in their studio or performing a pop-up acoustic set on the top of Scafell Pike? Which is more likely to get on the TV or on the front page of a newspaper?

When you’re thinking about what stories you can tell about your business you also need to think about how they will look. The more visually appealing they are the more likely they are to engage journalists, TV crews and people in general.

We can help

At Platinum Live we know it’s tough running a small business and trying to be a PR guru at the same time. That’s why we’re here to help you tell stories and create great content. Please email to find out more about what we can do.