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How to Turn a Tricky Business Concept into Media Coverage for Your Client

To anyone involved with media relations, the term “Berry Amendment” may not come across as sexy – even if a PR firm has been tasked with making it sound as such.

Yet to the average business reporter or editor, the term can garner a second look – perhaps even a complete thought – if it’s paired with more understandable concepts already well-known in the public domain.

For example, “Berry Amendment” on its own might provoke a “Huh?” response from a newspaper or another print outlet.  However, combine the term with “job gains,” “sequestration” and “sluggish economy” and that might prompt a different kind of response – “What is this and how does it impact the daily lives of hard-working Americans?”

Public relations professionals know that the types of business stories that leap more and more nowadays from the newspapers, magazines, televisions and computers of the world are the ones that focus on a nation slowly rebuilding itself amidst the thousands still without jobs or worried about losing their jobs because of hard times or federal budget cuts.

In essence then, a story about the “Berry Amendment” can become much more.  Instead of a basic story about a more than 60-year-old piece of legislation that requires America’s servicemen and women to wear US-made clothing, a business reporter can visualize a story about a piece of legislation that actually can protect crucial US manufacturing jobs or create new jobs for footwear companies, thus spurring greater economic growth.

Help coordinate a visual (photo, video), and you could have a potential front-page news item.

With that in mind, here are some ways in which media relations expert can take a client’s tough business concept and translate it into a more understandable pitch for reporters and editors.

1.      Personalize the concept – If your client stands to benefit from a concept like the “Berry Amendment,” then introduce the client to the reporter/editor by explaining who they are, what they do, the size of their workforce, and how they will be positively impacted by the concept. Often times, the company itself serves as the opening of various business feature stories before the concept is fully introduced to readers.

2.      Apply the concept to the modern day – Every business reporter in 2013 is thinking about “jobs, jobs, jobs” when it comes to writing their stories.  Reporters already know the economy is struggling to rebuild itself with various sectors seeing job losses on a steady basis.  If the concept will in fact increase jobs for your client or help turn around a local economy, be sure to include that in your pitch.

3.      A word like “sequestration” can make a difference – This particularly applies to defense companies.  Though “sequestration” is really just a scary word for federal budget cuts, the term has become synonymous with the nation’s budgetary woes.  If the concept can turn around hard-hitting impacts of sequestration, be sure to point that out.

4.      Describe the concept as if you were chatting with a friend – If you’re defining the “Berry  Amendment” for a reporter or editor, put the technical jargon aside.  No need to write a dissertation about the concept – a clear-cut sentence or two works just fine (“Legislation that requires all U.S. military personnel to wear US-made apparel, including footwear”).  The reporter/editor’s job is to make the concept understandable to the average American, not a classroom of PhD candidates.

The goal is to get reporters and editors excited to cover a story based on your pitch and get your client in the news.

When it comes to the business of seeking business stories, PR pros need to think like the journalists they’re pitching.  To increase the chances of greater media coverage, don’t write for PR – WRITE FOR NEWS.  Crafting a pitch like a news story simplifies the news gathering process for reporters who are increasingly stretched for time.

-Paula Gates

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