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10 Ways To Kill A News Story : BoardroomArts.com

10 Ways To Kill A News Story

With so many media outlets looking for good stories, you’d think most promoters would have little trouble getting ideas circulated. Yet many valid story concepts are never covered for the oddest of reasons: The promoter prevents coverage!

This sounds like an utter contradiction of purpose and intent, but it happens more frequently than anyone might believe. There are practices which make even the most intriguing story excruciatingly difficult to develop and the result is that reporters move on to friendlier possibilities.

Here are 10 quick situations where promoters kill their own stories.

1. A firm’s media contact has good relations with local reporters but management refuses to give him straight information about the company. Journalists ignore the company because its spokesman is not privy to the data they need. Guess who’s fired because, says management, he can’t get the firm’s name in print?

2. When reporters want information about Colossal Insurance all they need do is call Wanda Insight, the All-Knowing, Centralized Font of Insurance Knowledge, a virtual encyclopedia of industry news, prices, trends and history. But what happens when Insight is out to lunch, in a meeting, on leave or traveling? Can anyone else talk about the firm’s sales?

“No,” says Insight’s assistant, “it’s against company policy. Only Ms. Insight can speak to the media.”

When will she be in? “Next Tuesday. Maybe.”

You have to wonder how the company will survive if Insight is ever hit by a bus. Do reporters, unable to catch the illusive Ms. Insight, continue to call?

3. A reporter has just spoken with the company president who is interesting, informative and quotable. Later the firm’s media whiz calls to ask if more information is needed and casually mentions that one subject discussed by the company president is off limits.

“You can’t write about that subject,” the reporter is told. “Mr. Mumbles (the firm’s president) had no right to discuss that with you.”

Really? How did Mumbles become president?

4. A news release is sent to reporters marked “Copyright 2012 Invisible Management, Inc. All Rights Reserved. No part of this document may be quoted, reproduced or stored in whole or in part without the express written permission of Invisible Management, Inc.” Does this mean a reporter must ask permission to use a news release? Do you think many reporters will bother calling when other stories await?

5. The phone rings and a voice asks, “Is Reporter Thompkins there? Could you hold for Mr. H. Pickford Pickford, president of Pickford Industries and a man so important he uses the same name twice?” Is Mr. Pickford unable to dial? Is there an unsubtle hint that Mr. Pickford’s time is more precious than that of the reporter? Do reporters enjoy such intimations?

6. Williams contacts magazine writer Bell with a story and promises not to say anything to other reporters until Bell’s piece appears in print. Later, Bell is chagrined to see “his” story in the morning paper. Does writer Bell call Williams again?

7. The Pristine Pines Ecological Paving and Concrete Company schedules a news conference to announce a new method of cobblestone extraction. After the firm’s president reads a statement he says, “there’s no sense in asking questions, all the information you need is in your news kits” and walks away from the podium. Will you read about Pristine Pines in the morning paper?

8. Since the first apes climbed down from their primordial trees, mankind has sought relief from the humble hang nail and so when Dr. Vernon Brilliant walked into a local newspaper office to announce a cure, there was more than mild interest. When asked for supporting studies, documentation and peer reviews, Dr. Brilliant is long on explanations and short on paper. Can reporters cover unsupported medical breakthroughs?

9. After meeting for lunch at LaDeduction, Sedgewick the developer told a reporter for a local TV station that he hoped their conversation would result in a story. So the reporter would not forget, Sedgewick made a point of having his secretary call the station each day to remind the reporter of their conversation. When, after six weeks, no story was aired Sedgewick wrote a bombastic letter to the broadcaster which included a copy of the luncheon bill. Was the reporter pleased by such attention?

10. Reporter Franklin was compiling a chart of two-bedroom condominium units in the area. He called each of 200 projects, explained what he was doing and asked three simple questions: Do you have two-bedroom units, are any now available and how are they priced? At the “Shacks of Swampmead,” the agent told Franklin she would be happy to give the information he sought, but only if visited the model homes and watched a two-hour video presentation. Guess why the chart was titled “Selected Metro Condos” and the “Shacks of Swampmead” were somehow missing?

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