Selection Sunday has come and gone, which means March Madness is fully underway. Every year, die-hard college basketball fans, dressed head-to-toe in their Carolina and Duke Blues, Vols Orange, ‘Cuse Orange, or whatever their college garb may be, fill out their brackets. For the next three weeks, they’ll stay glued to their televisions, phones, and iPads to stay up to date on the scores, the latest Cinderella story, or their own standing in the tournament. I’m not going to lie, the thrill of it all even gets me into it.
I did a little digging, and 2019 marks 80 years since the first NCAA basketball national tournament was held. Despite decades of games, this three-week national tournament continues to keep the nation riveted each year. Who will make it to the Final Four? How far can I make it until my bracket busts? Who will emerge as this year’s Cinderella story? For years, it has been the upsets and emergence of the Cinderella team that has driven the excitement of March Madness.
So, how does a basketball tournament correlate to you getting media coverage? It all comes down to a great story and how you paint it to look new again.
Telling your fairy tale.
New businesses open their doors every day. Job numbers come out every month. So, what makes your media pitch stand out? It’s all about the story-telling.
The foundation of media is based on the 5 Ws (who, what, where, why, when), but that’s not really cutting it anymore. Media is in the battle of its life competing for audiences’ attention. So, the stories journalists decide to cover must go beyond the surface. By helping shape that story, you’re doing a lot of the work for them.
Who is your Cinderella?
One of my favorite Cinderella stories of the NCAA Tournament was in 2008. I had just started dating my husband and was asked to take part in his friends’ bracket tournament. I decided to pick Davidson to go pretty far. I knew nothing about the school, least of all the basketball team. Don’t judge, I think I liked the name for our future child.
This underdog story would go on to dominate the tournament and pretty much turn into Stephen Curry’s coming out party. Yes, the same Steph Curry who has led the Golden State Warriors to the NBA Finals four years in a row and helped them win two championships. I do know some stuff about basketball, thank you very much.
The magic Curry made on the court in 2008 captivated the country, creating an abundance of fans who never even heard of the small school, 40 minutes outside of Charlotte. Every story has a main character, even yours. But, the character has to resonate with the audience. As much as you’d probably love your main character to be your client or the CEO of your company, you have to ask yourself, will this person make someone sitting at home stop and listen?
Consider an employee or customer who can provide a testimony of how your story has impacted their life. Yes, it may take a little extra work on identifying the person, obtaining permissions, crafting media messages and providing interview training, but landing great coverage is worth it, right?
Identifying an additional person in your story also helps build those extra layers. This also means a reporter doesn’t need to chase someone else down for another interview.
The numbers game.
Now that you’ve created a story, identified your characters, you need to credential it. An easy way to do this is by sharing numbers. How many people have been impacted? How many other companies are doing this? What’s the economic impact? Providing numbers in a pitch show validity and relevancy, as well as cement the success your story has already achieved.
You’ve got the steps, now it’s time to start putting them all together. Need some help with your own Cinderella story? Reach out to us.
“Confessions of a Former TV Producer” is a blog series written by Katie Parker, McKeeman Communications’ newest maven. She was an Emmy-nominated news producer who spent the last 12 years working in top television newsrooms in Raleigh, NC, Charleston, SC, and most recently WSOC-TV in Charlotte, NC.