Why won’t the media cover my business?
It’s the one question every news junkie wants to know. How do the news producers and newspaper editors decide what to print and broadcast on TV?
Conspiracy theorists always have a field day when they point out most of the local and national newscasts usually start with the same story. In many cases, even the video and sound are the same among the competing news organizations. How could this be, they ask. Is this a coincidence or has the media been indoctrinated to all chase the same stories?
The truth is the news media is driven by profits and that means eye balls matter. It’s no different than slowing down as you pass a car crash. You want to see the damage because it reinforces that you have somehow escaped death and lived to see another day. TV viewers have the same habits. They tend to watch stories of doom and gloom and that translates into higher ratings. Higher ratings equal higher ad rates, which means more money for their corporate giants.
Sure, people complain they hate watching murder and crime stories, but would they tune in to a story about a grandmother who made it home safely from work? Probably not; but they would likely watch the story if she got mugged and the News at 6 showed the entire crime captured from an elevator surveillance camera.
Improve Your Chances for Coverage
Every news outlet wants to run enterprise and original stories, but the open secret inside every newsroom is most editors, news managers and producers are afraid of failure. If the public doesn’t buy, read or watch their stories, they know they will lose credibility in the newsroom for pitching it. Once credibility is lost, you are perceived as the “out-of-touch” journalist and no one wants that label. The only thing scarier than that is being identified as the “overpaid journalist” during an economic downturn.
This is why if you want a story written about you or your business, you need to cite a reason why people will want to watch. Don’t assume news is a public service that must provide equal time. Yes, the media is entitled to run stories that benefit and help the public, but subconsciously, every news decision-maker will secretly ask himself, “is this something my viewers will watch?” This also applies to bloggers. Is this a story that their readers will care about?
You can improve your chances of getting any story on the news by understanding how viewers and readers think. And in just in case you’re wondering, how do they think? Pretty much just like yourself. It’s a simple formula that news managers continuely battle with every day.
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Mark Macias is a former Executive Producer with WNBC and Senior Producer with WCBS. He’s also the author of the communications book, Beat the Press: Your Guide to Managing the Media. Macias now consults small and large businesses on how to get publicity. You can read more on his firm at MaciasPR.