I’m often asked about what works in promotions; what resonates with the media—what entices them to cover your event or activity?
There are basic elements in promoting a story to the media. It has to have news value or there has to be an opportunity for wonderful photos or great human interest. Human interest is story telling.
But the reluctance some have for telling great stories is bewildering.
Depending on the market (pitching a story in New York is much more challenging than pitching a story in smaller markets) you have to bring strong human interest to most events.
A story about how a customer or client benefited through the use of a product or service captures the imagination. How someone overcomes adversity and improves their life through something you offer becomes a key factor for public and media interest.
The overwhelming number of faxes and e-mails received by the media are trashed in seconds. There is not enough time in the day for the media to cover these stories and most lack one of the three basic elements necessary to prompt coverage.
On the other hand, I’ve seen mediocre stories in tough markets get coverage because the person (or people) attached to the event was just flat-out interesting.
But to get human interest you have to invest time into the lives of the people affected. You have to establish a comfort level with the individual involved and, most important, you have to make sure that the person who centers your story is comfortable with the exposure; that no harm will come through exposure.
Some in government, associations and nonprofits feel that personal exposure is simply dangerous; a possible violation of the individual’s privacy.
On the contrary, this person could find the experience fulfilling and meaningful and give you a tool for best describing what you are trying to promote.
The human-interest component is so compelling that press events featuring the people involved become far more compelling than executives trying to tell the same story. During some press events, I’ve pulled virtually all executives and left the story in the hands of the people most affected.
Human interest is an extremely powerful component of whatever you are promoting. Leaving it out may be a mistake.