Tough Media: Five obstacles to getting coverage (and how to overcome them)

Jun 09, 2014 admin

Last weekend, I participated in the Tough Mudder, notoriously known as “the toughest event on the planet.” As I ran up and down the Green Mountains of Vermont, climbing walls, swimming through ice water, and running through high-voltage wires, all while knee-deep in mud, I came to realize that I (perhaps foolishly) enjoy a great challenge – and that doesn’t stop at my extracurricular activities, but spills into my career as a PR professional as well.

While one of the main objectives of a career in PR is to obtain media coverage for clients, that isn’t always an easy task.

Here are five things that will help any PR person overcome the obstacle of getting media coverage:

  1. News hook: According to Beth Monaghan, there are two ways to get media coverage – make your own news or find a way to hook onto current news. If you can tie your story idea to a timely topic already making headlines, it is more likely to catch a reporter’s attention and fit into something they are already working on.
  2. Build relationships: Reporters are more likely to trust resources who have helped them out in the past. With shrinking staffs, they are strapped for time, often writing upwards of five stories a day. They don’t have time to read emails promoting ideas that have nothing to do with their coverage areas. If you are looking to obtain coverage with a specific reporter, it is essential to get to know them. While this used to happen over lunch and coffee, we are now reliant on the seldom phone call and Twitter, which my colleague Samantha McGarry points out is a “huge and untapped asset for building relationships with reporters.” If you are smart, knowledgeable, and helpful the first time you interact with a journalist, it is highly likely they will come back to you again.
  3. Spokesperson: Have a spokesperson that is readily available. That means if the reporter is available in an hour, so is the spokesperson. Reporters are working on very tight deadlines, so you are more likely to get coverage if you are available when they are. Also, make sure the spokesperson is up to speed on all messaging and talking points. Most times, they can end up crafting the story you want to tell during the interview if they are prepared ahead of time. For additional advice on navigating the media interview, check out Beth Monaghan’s tips on how to get quoted as you intend.
  4. Supporting materials: Journalists aren’t going to buy into a story just because you are selling it. Having supporting data and infographics validates the story and helps reporters do their job by providing ready-made visuals. As my colleague Lee Glandorf pointed out in a previous post, an editor will need visual elements when it’s time to publish, so get ahead of them by offering compelling visuals to craft the content around.
  5. Call to action: Make sure you are clear about what you are asking the reporter to do. Do you have a new story idea you’d like them to consider? Would you like to schedule a meeting with one of your executives? Or do you want to provide a new perspective on a story they’ve already written? A pitch with a clear call to action is more likely to achieve the end result you are looking for.

So while (thankfully) pitching the media results in less bruises, in many ways it requires the same skills necessary complete the Tough Mudder course – grit, resilience, and a team stacked with the right tools to get the job done.

Topics: Content, Infographics, Media Relations, Messaging, News, Public Relations, Twitter, Journalism, PR

To subscribe to the InkHouse Inklings blog, and for other thought leadership content just add your email address:



InkHouse has been recognized by:
  • TPTW_2019_grey
  • inc-bwp-2019-standard-logo
  • women-led-business-logo-1
  • PRNews_TopPlaces