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Media Training: Fine tuning your story

  July 18, 2022

Your story is unique, and the media should be interested.  The trouble is your messaging is too complicated, confusing, or unclear.  First the gatekeepers in the newsroom don't grasp it so your chance of getting media attention ends there.  Or, you do get interviewed, but you don't tell your story in a compelling manner.  That means the chance of garnering other media hits after your first interview, is slim.

So how do you become a good storyteller?

  • Start by writing down ten key points about your story.  
  • Next, weed out five of them, so you are focusing on only the most interesting elements.
  • The interesting bits should include what is unique about you or your business.  An example...
    • The fact that you're opening a local bakery is not newsworthy in and of itself.  But if your backstory is unique, that's what you want to pitch to the media.  Let's say the bakery will feature only recipes handed down to you by your late grandmother.  She ran a bakery in Great Britain during WWII when white flour was in short supply.  Granny was creating gluten-free cakes before anyone knew about gluten intolerance.  
  • Practice your storytelling on friends.
  • Consider working with a communications professional/media consultant to learn how to craft a media-friendly story.
  • If your goal is to do TV interviews, learn to tell your story in a concise manner.  
  • Concise doesn't mean leaving out all the color.  Always be prepared to add something extra if a journalist gives you more time to tell your story.
  • You may want to tell your story chronologically at first--because it's easier.
  • But as you get more comfortable with the media, learn to weave in tidbits in a non-linear manner.  In other words, you may skip over years or events in your timeline to highlight a part of your story that may be more interesting.
  • TV news viewers relate to stories, not stats.  If it is a "feel-good" story, all the better.  Often these involve children, animals, worthy causes, or someone overcoming adversity.  In the case of the local bakery opening, your granny's story may remind them of their own grandmother baking them goodies.  That's a connection.  

When a producer is putting a newscast or a morning news program together, she quickly realizes that she needs to prioritize some stories and guests at the expense of others.  There simply isn't enough time to get everything in.  The "A block" stories (the lead stories) are easy enough to identify. She'll also be looking for the little gems that her audience will relate to.  It could be an interesting video that's getting a lot of play on social media; a live guest who's done something very unusual; or any number of feel-good stories.

I was both a local TV news producer and a network producer. While a lot has changed in the industry over the years,  one thing is constant: a good story--told well, is newsworthy.  At the local level, the opening of that special  bakery with the unique backstory, could very easily make air.  

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