There can be times when you know you have a great story, know it would be perfect for a certain outlet; so how can you get a journalist to read your media release over the hundreds they get in their inbox every day?

I took this question to one of Australia’s most respected and prolific freelance journalists, Valerie Khoo, to help you understand how to get into the mind of a journalist and get your story heard.

How does a journalist look for a story?

You have three paragraphs to make an impression. Valerie says, “I read the first three paragraphs properly and skim the rest.” If you haven’t put forward your case by then, or if your story really doesn’t make sense, your media release will be deleted!

However, if it does contain the seed of a good idea, or does have a strong angle, she will go to the next step and consider whether it is going to fit into the angles she is covering at the moment.

What does a newsworthy angle look like?

The media looks for stories that have news value. A newsworthy story has to have an angle that is topical – something that is relative to the time of year, month, season, an event or a trend that is topical at the moment.

If it isn’t topical, the story must be compelling and interesting. Typically, these are stories which appeal to human emotion and aim to evoke an emotional response, such as sadness or amusement.

What are the ultimate media release fails?

  • Spelling a name wrong (yes, it does happen!). The journalist is going to think, “They got a name wrong, what other incorrect facts are there?”
  • Pitching to a journalist who doesn’t cover that industry. They are never going to look at your media release when it isn’t relevant to them.
  • Burying your point in the media release. Remember, they aren’t reading past paragraph three.

Journalists want to hear from you! They have to write stories, so use this advice to pitch ideas that will get cut through and start offering yourself as an expert to the media today.

Here's to seeing you in the spotlight.