University Marketing & Communications

How to get your story picked up by the media

With the ever-changing scene of media in the digital age, the way media outlets select and cover stories has changed as well. So how can you boost the chances of your story being picked up?

At the September Marketing Roundtable meeting, members of print, broadcast and digital media outlets participated in a panel discussion led by Jean Hayes, University Marketing’s senior manager for public relations, to discuss just that. The panel included John Cook, co-founder of GeekWire, Katherine Long, education reporter for The Seattle Times, and Sarah Garza, Assistant News Director at KOMO.

The panel offered several recommendations to help UW marketers improve the odds of gaining media coverage.

Lesson one: Don’t get discouraged. Continue sending stories—even if you haven’t heard anything back yet—as they are most likely just getting lost in the fray. Second, center your stories on people. Audiences connect most with stories that they can relate to, so human-centered stories are more likely to be picked up by the media. Finally, while press releases are helpful for reference, many reporters toss them aside without a second glance since they lack the personal element. Instead, the panel recommended establishing personal relationships with reporters.

And one last bit of advice the panel provided: Just like you, reporters are often working on very tight deadlines. Responding promptly and being accessible will go a long way in terms of building long-term relationships with reporters.