Media: What it Takes to get Media Coverage
This is the sixth column
in the series on Meeting the Media.
Recently, I was asked
to visit a major university for the purpose of listening to and
evaluating presentations by students on public affairs service learning
projects. I listened as students in each group mentioned the difficulty
of getting the media coverage they had wanted. I empathized with them
and told them something I learned years ago. While the media generally
wants to be helpful, they are only willing to report on what captures
the attention of their audiences. Here are eight things audiences want
it is old, it’s not news. The media wants to report on something that just
happened or is about to happen.
closer to home, the better; audiences are more interested in things that affect
them or their community.
want to hear about public figures, elected officials and famous persons. They
will be interested if the President is ill, buys a dog for his children or
commits a gaffe or makes a faux pas in public; they will not be
interested if a relatively unknown person does the same things.
of us are interested in a bizarre, unusual or unexpected event. As journalists
often say, “if a dog bites a man, that’s not news; but if a man bites a dog
that’s a different matter.” An event is more newsworthy if there is something
different about it.
debates, or situations where there is a winner or loser capture an audience’s
attention. Consider all the attention given to elections, sports events,
contests or competitions.
with conflict, people’s interest is piqued when the outcome is unsure. Will a
company weather a financial crisis? Will the hikers lost in the mountains be
found and rescued?
that stir up sympathy, anger or other emotions gain and keep audience interest.
Appeals to the emotions sell newspapers and attract viewers. Appeals to the
emotions generally gain larger audiences than appeals to logic or reason.
- Bad News—The
worse or more scandalous the news, the more attention it garners. Whereas you
want to use the first seven items in this list to make your story more
attractive, you want to avoid bad news or scandal, for it brings the kind of
attention you generally want to avoid.
Keep these things in mind the next time you seek media coverage.