How to align with the news agenda: Identifying news and delivering your message

At Globelynx, we are heavily involved in the capturing and delivery of news through our video network and being a part of the PA Media news agency. With the PA news agency sitting at the heart of the PA Media Group, there are numerous individuals within the organisation who live and breathe the news and understand the news cycle. We asked some of the key players at PA Media Group across its news and video operation, training division and PR photography and video division, to share their top tips around identifying news stories for organisations to align with, and how best to go about delivering this message.

Bridgid Nzekwu – Managing Director, PA Media Academy

  • Read/listen to/watch news!
  • Consider a monitoring service that can alert you to what’s happening in your sector/industry.
  • Subscribe to a news diary, so you’re aware of big upcoming stories, anniversaries, reports and events in advance.  Think about your take on these – why are you relevant and what do your audiences need to know about this?
  • Piggy-back on stories.  For example, if there is new legislation, technology affecting your sector, offer yourself as a case study to the journalists covering the story (you’ll need a spokesperson who has been media-trained, as well as a clear story and images/video opportunities and stats to help the journalist tell the story).

Richard Woodward – Chief News Editor, PA Media

  • Know what’s going on. Have a monitoring tool such as Mediapoint so you can see the latest content relating to your business as it arrives. And with embargoes you can be ahead of it.
  • Make your offering specific to the story. Vague generalities are no good. Can you provide content which adds an angle not already in the story. Can you give journalists new ideas on where to take the topic?
  • And it needs to be quick. We get many submissions the day after the story has run which are of no use.

Craig Gunn – Head of PA Media Assignments

  • Keep to three key messages. – too much and you lose the audience.
  • Make sure it is news – what is the hook, tone, style and what you want to say.
  • Relevant spokesperson, don’t shoe-horn in someone ‘branded’.
  • Use new research or conduct polls, qualitative and quantitively data.
  • Bring it to life for an average audience member living at home e.g. emphasise with a family of four struggling with bills if you are delivering news on Gas Price hikes.
  • Reacting whilst news is breaking comes with risk of being lost. One option is to let the story begin to fade in the news cycle and then bring it BACK TO LIFE with the new bit of info you have (this is a tricky one).
  • Seasonal stories will always be in the news agenda – budget, flu, summer holidays – prepare for those by monitoring and keeping abreast of upcoming trends.
  • Have your spokesperson available.
  • Be pro-active to producer in pitching in your spokesperson.

Joe Pickover – Head of Video Services, PA Media

Make sure you are regularly consuming the material of those you are pitching in to. Tailor your pitch to their style of output and if there is no relevance between your content and theirs, you might need to take it back to the drawing board. You can always ask too; make contact with the organisation you want to pitch to and try to get five minutes of their time. With a meeting you’ll be able to directly ask what will work for them.

Rebecca Speare-Cole – Sustainability Reporter, PA Media

  • Who, what, when, where and most importantly why is this interesting to people?
  • Who? A story is not an advertisement – it is something that serves the interest of a particular audience first.
  • What? What is the story about? Is this telling people something different that’s never been said before? Has another company or individual already done something similar?
  • When? Read the press wisely every day, paying attention to what the toplines are across different publications, sections and types of media. This will help hone your news sense and help you to align your messaging to the news cycle.
  • Why? Why should it go in this publication or news platform? Who is the audience that consumes content here? Is it a story they would be curious about? Unfortunately if you’re not representing or are a big household name, think tank, trade organisation or charity – you’re less likely to be picked up in the national press.
  • More Why? Why would this be interesting to that audience? Why are they the best person to tell this story? Who are their readers – are they general public or academics?