How to be the story journalists run with

Journalists are like investors. They are looking for the next opportunity to run a story on and their inbox is flooded with ever-hopefuls. How then, do you cut through the masses and get yourself featured in a headline story? Put simply, you need to *be the story*.

Ponder that thought for a moment – what does *being the story* mean?

Chances are, if you’re reading this article, you’ve been pitching journalists (or you’re a journalist with a flooded inbox!). Therein lays your fatal flaw. Pitching. AND, it’s likely you’ve been pitching your product or service too? If you have to convince or sell someone – you have an idea and not an opportunity on your hands. What matters is YOU and your OPPORTUNITY.

The two things you need to get a journalists attention are: opportunity and credibility. Your story is how you – the character in the narrative – weave these together. Immersive storytelling is character centred, not plot centered. You are the character, your product or venture is the plot that develops as a result of your opportunity.

First things first, abandon the press release

Putting a press-release together is so 1990s. They take up precious time and will unlikely be read. Journalists receive dozens of press releases, just like investors receive dozens of business plans. They are large chunks of out-of-context text, usually in template form, when all that is needed is the opportunity and credibility in one or two paragraphs. When you deliver a press release, you are expecting the journalist to do the work of finding the story within in it. An exception to this is large firms and government departments that are obligated to publish announcements. If you feel a need to write press release, or your team is demanding one from you, turn it into a blog post announcement instead. Remember, an announcement may be major news for you and your stakeholders, but that is different to being a media opportunity.

Jump on the band-wagon of an existing story

Journalists have to present a new story to their editor for approval before they invest any time on it. Stories are often rejected or sidelined. The secret to appearing in stories on a regular basis is to relate your opportunity to an existing media call out, a story a journalist is already writing and is actively seeking sources for. SourceBottle is a brilliant platform that emails relevant media call outs to you on a daily basis.

Do the groundwork to be media-ready

Media opportunities skyrocket when you have media assets. In fact without them, you may never be selected for a story. The first thing both journalists and investors do after you’ve peaked their interest is their due diligence on you. Remember, their journalistic integrity is on the line! First point of call is your personal website. They seek to understand your perspective, professionalism, focus, knowledge and skills – at a glance. Your social media accounts show how connected you are, your leadership and capacity to immerse others in your story. I have witnessed people selected for stories, as prize winners and to receive event tickets purely based on the fact their email address is their own-name domain name opposed to a company domain name. A portfolio of world-class professional photographs for a journalist to choose from to accompany the story saves the publication the time and expense of sending out a photographer. A pre-written long and short bio online once again saves the journalist time.

To be selected for a media story – deliver your media assets on a silver platter. Be world-class and make it easy.

Introduce yourself in context

Context matters. Who are you and what is your perspective? Journalists love incorporating multiple perspectives on a story. Present your perspective and its value directly in relation to the story they are already writing. This is why cooker-cutter text and job titles will not see you selected.

How is your perspective unique and what is it about your perspective that adds value to their story? Remember, 99% of submissions will be the same. Be different.

Here’s how I have successfully introduced myself in media call outs:

2015 growth sectors

My name is Lauren Rielly and I'm a high growth entrepreneurship consultant who specialises in opportunity evaluation. I am focusing my 2015 in virtual reality – and here’s why! (You can learn more on my background at http://laurenrielly.com)

Assessing IPOs

I am a serial entrepreneur and entrepreneurship process consultant who works with entrepreneurs to get their venture to high growth position. You may view more about myself and background at http://laurenrielly.com

Entrepreneurship webinars

Good morning! My name is Lauren Rielly and I am an entrepreneurship coach who specialises in helping entrepreneurs get founded, get media, get partnerships and get funded. See more of my background at http://laurenrielly.com

Banking apps

I am an avid user of disruptive technology as I help entrepreneurs understand investors and get funded. You can see more of my background at http://laurenrielly.com

Taxi apps

Hi! I am based in Cremorne (3121) and do not have a need for a car as I live first suburb out of CBD, work from home and most things I do are within walking distance. There is, however, times I am reliant on a taxi.

Tell the story of opportunity

Remember, your media story is all about YOU and your journey of opportunity – not your product. It’s precisely the same approach taken when talking to investors. So what exactly is an opportunity? An opportunity is the story of a challenge or quest a particular person has and how their journey navigates obstacles and triumphs to achieve a goal. If you’d like assistance in defining what your real opportunity is, download the Opportunity App for free from http://laurenrielly.com/getstarted.

At this stage, we have already established your credibility by introducing yourself in context and by having media assets lined up. I am going to assume you have an opportunity statement to play with after using the Opportunity App.

Now, the only thing you need to do is craft your story of opportunity – the story the readers personally relate to – and use your product or venture as the example! See how this is an entirely different perspective to starting with talking about your product?

Using the same media call outs I responded to from above, here are snippets of the stories I crafted that resulted in publication:

2015 growth sectors

Immersive media, entertainment and education through virtual reality is the hottest emerging sector in 2015.No longer do we broadcast to viewers – now we bring participants INTO the narrative giving them a transformational experience. Those who embrace VR during its infancy this year will be poised for high growth as it hits mass-market adoption during 2016. International film festivals, tradeshows and exhibitions are beginning to showcase virtual reality now and technological advancements see mobile phones we own today already capable of VR.

Assessing IPOs

While there is financial and legal due diligence associated with assessing an IPO, there is also the core component of entrepreneurship that determines future durability, credibility and viability which is OPPORTUNITY EVALUATION. Opportunity evaluation looks to see if the company is in *high growth position* and what risks may affect performance.

High growth companies hold ‘opportunity assets’ that sustainably transform new knowledge into new value. An IPO allows entrepreneurs and their early financiers to monetise this value by selling shares in their enterprise’s future profits to shareholders. Questions to ask yourself to help identify the existence and strength of opportunity assets include…

Entrepreneurship webinars

I would love to do a webinar that focuses on helping entrepreneurs:

- transform their idea into an opportunity to get founded

- develop community leadership

- understand investors and what's needed to get funding

Banking apps

I first used cardless cash out of necessity when the expiry of my cards coincided with moving house and I found myself cardless. My cards expired May 31st. I had a date on June 1st and was so embarrassed I couldn't access any cash to pay for a coffee! By that afternoon, which was a Sunday, I had cash in hand after upgrading my CBA app. The gap to re-send the cards to my new address did not affect me as I used my phone all week.

Taxi apps

Taxis have proved disastrous. I have missed or been late to meetings and functions, had to wait 1-2 hours for arrival, sometimes I am refused a fare as it would be under $10 even when I offer a tip. The driving is often dangerous, they have refused to turn off or down loud music, talk incessantly on their mobile to a friend and behave as though it's an inconvenience to have me in their vehicle.

That was until the taxi revolution hit. I am a huge advocate of Uber and recommend it widely. For further distances I use GoCatch.

Be the story

Did you notice with the examples above how the stories are my perspective and follow a problem-solution narrative of opportunity? Journalists are interested in YOUR story. YOU are the story.