Last year, we posted this list of nine questions to help kickstart your next PR brainstorm. Now, we’re adding to our original list with 11 more questions to ask yourself the next time you’re searching for a new topic to pitch to the media.
1. How did your company get its start?
Think back to the very first days of your company – or even to the days before your company began. What led you (or your founder) to start the company? What were those early days like?
Not every company has a compelling origin story – and that’s totally fine. But, if yours does have a good story, turn it into a media pitch.
2. Have you learned anything new from your company’s recent experiences or challenges?
Even the most experienced of business leaders encounters new challenges from time to time. The best business leaders see these challenges as opportunities to learn.
In the context of your own company, reflect on any challenges or situations you’ve encountered recently that have taught you something new. Could any of the lessons you’ve learned be helpful to others? If so, develop a pitch offering yourself to talk about your experience and to share your learned insights.
3. Which pitch angles have been the most – or the least – successful so far this year?
Take stock of any media pitching you’ve already done this year. Have any pitches been particularly successful? Have any been particularly unsuccessful?
Look for similarities between the pitches that have produced media coverage, and between those that haven’t. Do these similarities highlight anything you should – or shouldn’t – focus on in your next pitch?
4. Which outlet-specific sections or columns seem like a good spot for your company story?
Comb through the outlets you’d like to target for media coverage. Identify any sections or columns that seem like a good fit for your area of business or your expertise, and craft a pitch specifically tailored to that section or column.
5. Are there any changes your company made during the COVID-19 pandemic that you plan to continue indefinitely?
Look back over the past ~15 months. What changes did your company make in response to the COVID-19 pandemic? Do you plan to continue any of these changes indefinitely? Have any of your changes resulted in a stronger business? Greater profits? Happier employees?
Though COVID-19 media coverage (at the time of this writing) is far less prevalent than it was earlier in the pandemic, there are still plenty of opportunities for pandemic-oriented media coverage.
6. Have you had any noteworthy successes with your owned media content or channels?
Get into the habit of regularly assessing the progress of your owned media channels. Whenever you identify a noteworthy win – an impressive increase of followers, or a piece of content that goes viral, for example – consider whether or not anyone in the media might be interested in the story behind your success (the ‘how we did this’ story).
7. What events, launches, or other activities are on your company’s calendar for the remainder of this year?
Will your company be launching any new products, introducing new services, hosting events, participating in major conferences, etc. over the coming months?
Take a look at your company calendar and identify any goings-on that might be media-worthy. If you’re hosting an event, for example, develop a shortlist of key media to invite. If you’re speaking at a conference, use the topic of your speech to create a related story pitch. If you’re launching a new product or service, encourage media to write about your launch.
8. What are the busiest times of year for your company? Why?
For many companies, there’s a ‘busy season’ and a ‘not so busy season’. When are these periods for your company? What causes your business fluctuations?
The natural ebbs and flows of your business cycle might highlight story lines that could be of interest to relevant journalists.
9. What topics have your top media targets been covering recently?
Look closely at recent coverage produced by your top media targets. The topics of interest to your target reporters can sometimes surprise you – and inspire new story pitches of your own.
10. What major holidays are coming up over the next six months? Do any of these holidays have an impact on or connection to your business?
Media pitching pegged to a holiday can require significant forethought. For example, many outlets (especially print publications) begin compiling their end-of-year holiday gift guides in June!
If you don’t plan properly, you’ll miss out on valuable media opportunities. Be aware of any holidays coming up that have some tie-in to your business, and pitch accordingly.
11. If you weren’t working at your company, what would you find the most interesting about its products, services, or backstory?
This can be a tough question to answer – particularly if you’re the founder of your company. But, try as best as you can to step outside yourself and outside your role within the company.
If you weren’t affiliated with the company, and if you weren’t so familiar with the day-in, day-out nature of your work, what do you think you’d find most interesting or compelling? What would make you want to learn more? What would make you want to buy your company’s products, or use the company’s services?