There are fewer journalists on the ground these days and, those who are there, are looking for more interesting, informative and thought provoking articles.
A press release may be unfinished, it may provoke more questions.
A story, on the other hand, is the finished product, carefully crafted for your target audience or a geographical location.
Increasingly in a world of growing media platforms and shrinking resources, newspapers and websites want stories ‘print-ready’, in a form that can be used pretty much as they are sent in.
Of course, some more interesting stories might require a better photo to be taken or, for a more complicated story, a follow-up phone call, but the simple stuff should be fit-for-purpose at the start.
I have edited newspapers with 10 reporters and with two reporters. Where resource is low, journalists time is tight. The less they are chasing extra information, the better your chance of being published.
Some newspapers ‘write to template’. That means stories need to be the correct length to drop into a pre-drawn box. It’s important to find out what length each publication requires.
Templates will usually also have two photograph options – a landscape (or wide) and a portrait (upright). Sending in one shape can limit the position in the paper and on the page that your story can appear.
For example, if the lead story – the main one with a big pic – requires a landscape photo and you only send in an upright, you may be bumped down the page or into a side column.
Here are Paul’s top tips for getting your story published:
- Make it interesting and thought provoking
- Write to the correct length
- Send in at least two photo options
- Add captions to your photos
- Include important personal information – names, ages, job titles
- Write for your target audience, location
- Email story and picture and include the title in the catch-line
Paul Harrison is a former editor at MEN Media in Manchester and is now a freelance journalist at BBC Sport and news editor at Marketing Stockport – call us on 0161 451 0770, happy to help!