Time to Resell your Story to the Media
By: Mark Macias
It’s time for an advanced lesson in public relations.
What happens when you can’t get traction for a story, no matter how hard you pitch it? Or worse, when journalists tell you, “that’s not a story.”
When this happens, it is time to redefine the narrative.
In journalism and PR, the story narrative is crucial to success. Without a strong narrative, there will never be a media placement, regardless of how many contacts you have in the media.
During my years as a news producer with NBC and CBS, there were many times when I pursued a story only to discover that the story I thought I was pursuing was actually a different story. When this happened, we had two options – kill the story or salvage it.
In the early stages, like in your initial pitch to a reporter, it is very easy to kill the story, but when money has already been invested in a story, you learn how to salvage it.
As an Executive Producer with WNBC, I oversaw a very large production budget that funded the Special Projects unit. At the time, GE owned NBC, so as every shareholder knows, GE was very big that you come under budget or you get fired.
There were many times when I approved a story idea and we invested money into the story, only to discover half-way through the story that it wasn’t there. This was when we had to put on our creative hats and think of a way to salvage the story.
I recently had to “salvage” a story with a real estate client when I was asked to promote a residential property that was on the market for $48 million dollars. I assumed this high-end property would have gold fixtures and marble floors, but when I visited the property, I saw it was really a fixer-upper. I knew I couldn’t position this property as a voyeuristic view into the wealthy lifestyle, like I had originally planned. No reporter would want to see this property.
So I redefined the narrative.
The new story became, “take a look at a $48 million fixer-upper.” Then, I redefined my media pitch into what I originally thought. “You would think this property would come with gold fixtures and marble floors, but you won’t see any of that in this property. Only in New York can you buy a $48 million fixer-upper.”
The new narrative was such a hit that we had two New York tabloids asking for an exclusive on the story. We went with the larger newspaper.
How can you apply this to your business? Next time you can’t get traction with a story, try redefining the narrative. Sometimes, the real story is better than the original story. Here’s the media placement we got on that property. $48 million fixer-upper hits upper East Side market, needs $10 million more for luxury makeover
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Mark Macias is a former Executive Producer with WNBC, Senior Producer with WCBS and author of the book, Beat the Press: Your Guide to Managing the Media. You can read more on his public relations agency at MaciasPR.