How to find brilliant business stories that people will actually want to read

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You want press coverage to help promote your business. A journalist is looking for a good story. Unfortunately, good stories and good promotion don’t always align.

Promoting a great service, a competitive price or a user benefit may be the end goal of your press coverage, but they aren’t topics for a great news article. You won’t find a journo getting emotional over a product description. A good story gets picked up by the media because it’s new, relevant and often evokes an emotional response. 

So how do you find a business story if you think you don’t have one to tell?

What’s the story?

If you want to make people pay attention to your business, you need to be able to tell a good story. Think about Levi Roots/ Reggae Reggae Sauce, Compare the Market/ Compare the Meerkat and Marks & Spencer/ This Is Not Just Food – good brands with an even better story.

There are lots of places to look for stories within your business – even if you think you don’t have anything to say.

To start with, can you say what’s interesting about… 

The way your company was formed/ where it all started?

The backstory of your company’s founders?

The people that work for your business?

The company culture?

Or are you…

Doing something that no one else is?

Changing your industry by the way you do things?

Changing the way people behave with your service or product?

Having an impact on the people that are using your product or service?

Able to make a prediction about the future?

You’ll find that some stories are absolute bankers for local media coverage such as: a new business; being shortlisted for an award; new staff or a business expansion; fundraising exploits of staff such as headshaves and the Great North Run.

But equally, journalists will tell you they get sent a lot of duds such as press releases about anniversaries (‘We’ve been open two years’), price cuts or write-ups that essentially boil down to promoting a product or a business. If you use the language of a sales leaflet in a press release most journalists will run a mile.

Launching a new online shop, celebrating a new member of staff or moving office – they’re all exciting bits of news that will be the basis of a good story. We just need to ask ourselves a few more questions…

Can you dig a little deeper?

When it comes to crafting an interesting story try to share a human or more personal perspective.

For example, you or your business may have recently donated to a charity. This is a great start to a story – but if we dig a little deeper can you explain why you chose that specific charity? Is it a cause that’s personal to you? Has it had an impact on you or your team?

Whether your business provides IT support or sells jewellery, finding a way to bring a human element into your story is critical for coverage.

Have you spoken to anyone else?

Readers like to identify with the people – so make sure you include a person in your story.

Businesses often add a quote in a press release just because ‘it’s what you have to do,’ when in fact, it can add a lot of value to your story. Use this as an opportunity to add an extra insight – an added personal experience or an emotional angle.

Are you telling the truth?

Credibility and authority is linked to transparency and trustworthiness. In other words, fact is always more effective than fiction. Don’t try to build your reputation on a lie or attempt to embellish the truth, because if you get found out it could cause your business serious damage in the long run.

Do you do data?

Do you have data that you’re able to share to back up your story? It could be sales numbers, total reach on social media, ratings on Google or a recent poll on Instagram.

If you are including data, try to pick one or two key statistics rather than overwhelm your audience with lots of facts and figures.

Who cares?

Sure, you care. You friends and family care. But will your customers care enough to take any notice of your story?

Ensuring that you don’t just think about yourself will help your story gain a bit of traction. Have you been able to provide insight into why your customer should care? Or why they want or need the product or service you’re talking about?

Making sure your story relates to or solves a problem for your customer will make a better story and has the potential to engage readers and connect to your audience. 

How can this story be told?

We’ve talked about press releases, and in terms of media coverage, this is a great format to get into the habit of pitching. 

But when you have such a brilliant story think about all the different ways that you can tell it too. Can you record a brief video to share your story on social media? Are you able to get photos to include with your press release? If your story is about something you’ve learned, can you share five top tips from your experience?

The more ways you can help the journalist tell your story, the more likely they are to get your business the press coverage you deserve.

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