The secrets to becoming a media star
If you’re a small or start-up business with a limited marketing budget, you may not have the ability to hire an external agency to handle
your media relations.
The MFAA, together with communications consultant evolution media, have prepared the following tips to help you generate media
opportunities yourself and increase your chances of getting your business profiled in the news.
What is media relations and why do it?
Media relations is about communicating through journalists to your target audience. The aim is to get coverage of your organisation’s
message with out paying for the privilege. It differs to advertising or advertorial coverage where an organisation pays for the space to
promote their message.
Media influence on the public is strong as many people rely on media outlets for their information. The media retain this influence
because they shape and control what information is being disseminated, when and in what form.
Since the media are able to reach many audiences and affect attitudes and perceptions, efforts to interact with journalists can pay real
dividends. The media also have the advantage of being perceived as independent and giving your message third-party endorsement
and extra credibility.
What makes news?
Effective media relations begins with understanding what is newsworthy to the media and being able to tailor your message to their
different needs and audiences.
Often, turning newsworthy events into news is a simple matter of identification and delivery. Newsworthy material comes from asking
the right questions about situations that occur around us everyday.
The following are some ideas for newsworthy events which may relate to your business:
Individual or company achievements Your view on industry trends and change
Releasing a new product or service A response to public debate
Results or findings of research Announcement of conventions and seminars
Employee appointments or achievements Celebrity appearances
A record is broken Donations
Financial forecasts or results
And it is worth bearing in mind that every news story contains at least one of the following:
Well-known people Tragedy
Public interest Humour
Human interest Animals
How can you generate media coverage?
After identifying your newsworthy event, the next step is identifying the media who would be interested in your story and delivering
the news to them in a format which meets their needs. Most media relations agencies communicate with journalists using a media
release, a short factual announcement which provides journalists with the basics they need to create a news story.
Media releases usually follow a similar format to distinguish them from other forms of business communication. Before you draft
your media release, think of the who, what, when, where, why and how and put your points in order of importance. This will help you
structure your release.
Some of the key elements you should include in a media release include:
Headline – It should be catchy to grab the journalist’s attention.
Date – Ideally the same date the news is to be issued.
Introduction paragraph – This is the most important part of the media release as many journalists won’t read on if
they’re not interested in the first paragraph. It should summarise the newsworthy event and your key points.
Body – Provides further explanation of the newsworthy event. It usually includes a quote from your company
Boilerplate – A short “about” section with factual information on your company.
Media contact – The name, phone number and email address of a person journalists can contact if they require more
Once you’ve drafted your media release it’s time to put together a list of journalists who would be interested in the news. Consider
local media who cover your area as well as any trade publications relevant to your industry.
Call up the publication and ask to speak to the news editor or relevant journalist. Sell your story to them and explain why you think
their readers would be interested in the news. As a follow up email the media release to them.
It’s important to understand that there will be times when a journalist does not agree with your point of view or sees your story as
much less important than you do. If one idea doesn’t work, ask for feedback to find out what the journalist finds interesting to
improve your chances for next time.
5 top tips
Know the media
Read, watch or listen to the media you’re trying to engage with to understand what stories are relevant to their audience and
what they find interesting.
Make it interesting
Don’t rely on the journalist to make your story, you may have to be the one to make it interesting for them.
Keep it simple
Use easy to understand language and avoid jargon. Although you might use terms and acronyms daily in your job, don’t
assume journalists will know what you mean.
Timing is vital
Understand journalists’ deadlines and plan to best time to approach them. If you’re pitching a story at the last minute, unless
your information can help the reporter meet a deadline or enhance the story, it’s unlikely that they will pay much attention to
Maintain a respectful attitude towards the media and the role they play. If you have a problem with a story that’s been
written, it is perfectly acceptable to have a friendly conversation with a reporter about the parts of the story you think they
may have missed. It can be highly damaging to your relationship if you unleash your anger on a reporter.