As a publicist, it is your job to put your clients in front of the press with new story ideas. This task may seem easy enough, but it can be challenging if your client doesn't come out with new products and services on a regular basis. It is hard to pull fresh story ideas out of thin air! Sometimes you have to get creative, and come up with out of the box hooks to snag the placements you want.
In PR, you can only get so far with editors by pitching products over and over again; thus, you have to use outside sources for inspiration. Most of the time, I come up with my best story ideas when I am casually chatting with clients about topics other than work. The small details that they mention about their life can spark some really great stories.
Here are the easiest ways to find inspiration:
Pay attention to the way your client leads their team. Do they do anything that is particularly unique? If so, this could be a great business story. Business publications, especially, are always looking to provide their readers with takeaway tips that work. If your client is doing something innovative or effective, this can be turned into contributed content. For story ideas inspired by leadership style, you can look at everything from does the CEO have an open door policy? Or do they encourage company kumbaya sessions every second Tuesday? If the CEO’s leadership tactics are unique or controversial, the more likely the publication will be interested.
This is a major buzzword right now, so jump on the bandwagon! Everyone wants to work at a “cool”, happy company. There are many factors that define company culture: office space design, employee incentives, team building exercises, etc; basically, anything that has to do with increasing productivity and company morale. Since company culture is a trending topic right now, many publications are looking to write about it.
I know this one seems weird, but it can work. Finding out if your client has unique hobbies can open the door to a whole new slew of publications to pitch. There really are trade publications for every topic everything under the sun! For example, if your client enjoys knitting, you can pitch a story to a knitting trade that shows how knitting helped them to build a worldwide empire. No matter how ridiculous the hobby might be, there might be an editorial fit for it. You just have to get creative!
This is my favorite way to get an easy placement! Why reinvent the wheel? If the press is covering an event, find a way to fit your clients into what they are already working on. You can have your clients comment on what is happening in the news or they can write a response in the form of an op-ed. If the topic is hot, the media will be looking for experts, so act quickly.
The only way to land the rock star placements that your clients expect is to keep them looking exciting and relevant in front of the media. It can take time and energy to come up with enticing story ideas, but it is worth the effort. Sometimes the best way to brainstorm is to gather your team, and step away from the computer for a few hours! Even crazier: try leaving your phone at your desk, and see how creative you can get.
Photo Credit: Stuck in Customs
Rebekah Epstein is the founder of fifteen media, an agency that works exclusively with PR firms to streamline media relations in a digital era. She specializes in business, lifestyle, fashion and beauty. Rebekah also blogs about all things Gen Y at NeonNotebook. Follow her at @BekahEpstein.