Many clients ask us how to get major media coverage for their company. There are plenty of strategies to do this, of course, but one of the better ways to get reporters’ attention comes down to a four-letter word: Data. Figures, right?
Hard numbers that show how your organization performed against a national standard, or research in your field that dovetails with a company initiative is a natural way to start a conversation with a reporter. And because data provides hard facts based on research or performance, it’s often easier to move from a conversation to a pitch.
Reporters are busy. Many receive hundreds of pitches per week, and data helps your pitch stand out among the many squishy pitches reporters reject on sight.
1. More volume, more opportunity
More than ever, reporters are required to produce a volume of stories related to their beat. They aren’t always writing a 5,000-word think piece. They’re also looking for shorter, digestible 500-worders. A simple piece of research that provides a concise window into a complex concept can be the hook upon which a story can be easily built.
2. Data is impartial
Whether this maxim is true or not, performance data is perceived as unbiased. For example, if your hospital or surgery center performed well on a recognized quality performance measure, or if your tactic resulted in better patient satisfaction scores, the numbers plainly show the real results you achieved. It’s not just your words that claim success, you have the statistics to back up your assertions.
3. Lifting up the industry
Once the reporter shows interest, try not to be too self-promotional. This is a nuanced skill, but the reporter is more interested in how your news moved the industry forward. First, why does it matter, then, what tactics. For instance, if your organization scored well on a customer service measure that’s not well known, first demonstrate how measuring that data will move the industry forward. Then share the tactics you used that proved most successful in achieving your organization’s high performance. This way you both sell your organization’s leaders as authorities on the subject and portray them as seeking to move the industry in a positive and constructive direction. Others are going to want to know how you did it, and you can share that knowledge.
4. Data is versatile
Data tells a story of its own. It’s also easy for reporters to use in a variety of ways. Data lends itself to the nuts and bolts of storytelling. It provides a solid foundation from which a reporter can build in little anecdotes and get easy, informative quotes telling what it means, and more importantly, proving its importance to the reader. Data easily lends itself to nuggets of information that are perfect for social media—Twitter posts especially—where space is extremely limited, and data can concisely interest readers in the full story.
5. Follow-ups likely
Data-dependent stories can lead to follow-up stories on the same subject, stories for which your client is already established as a go-to trusted source. Health care publications, for example, don’t just write one story on quality, they write dozens over the course of the year. If your organization has proven it’s a top performer in a certain area and has the data to back it up, reporters will remember you the next time there’s a story on the same topic, even if you didn’t pitch it.
Finally, let’s focus on the reader, because the reporter is always thinking about the reader in deciding what to write. Data provides a compelling hook for people who are looking for solutions to their own problems—problems that may be quite similar to the ones you’ve already faced—and solved. Readers know it’s risky to try a new solution. If others have blazed the trail first, readers have an easier time selling that potential solution to the senior leaders to whom they report. They can see themselves in your successful approach to a vexing problem.
So next time you’re looking for headlines, don’t forget to show me the data!
Philip Betbeze is a Senior Advisor at Lovell Communications. Connect with Philip at: Philip@lovell.com.
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