How to use the national news agenda to get your brand into the media

After attending an incredibly useful Gorkana media briefing with BBC Breakfast and BBC Radio 5Live a few weeks ago I posted my top-5 take-outs from the session.

It seems to be advice worth following too as, since the briefing, I’ve managed to place a guest on the BBC Breakfast sofa (watch the amazing Brendan O’Donnell who lost 11st with Slimming World talk calories on alcohol labels) and provided another to the Radio 5Live breakfast show. Woop!


The key to both of these stories was linking to the national news agenda. Here’s how it’s done:

#1 Monitor the news in your industry
At Slimming World we use media cuttings agencies to source news relating to diet and obesity, while also setting up Google alerts and monitoring social media channels. This enables us to have a really clear view of what the big stories are and an understanding of ongoing issues. Regular monitoring also ensures we know which journalists cover the sorts of stories we’re interested in, so we know who to target when an opportunity comes up.

#2 Decide your company view
As soon as you have spotted a story that you might wish to comment on you need to start thinking about your company view. Start by reading everything you can in connection with the story so that you can be sure that you are making an informed comment. You should then think about how your organisation can add value to the story and demonstrate its leadership in this area. If you can add genuine insight you’ll have a far greater chance of success.

#3 Pitch your expert or case study
Whether you pitch by phone or email you need to be really clear on what you’re offering. Let the journalist know which story you’re getting in touch about, who your spokesperson or case study is and the general point they will be making in any interview. Be clear and concise and include a written quote in any email to print journalists. Pitching a spokesperson or case study as soon as a story lands shows that you’re on the ball and if you have a strong company view and a high quality interviewee on offer then you’ll have a great chance of being part of the conversation.

#4 Brief your spokesperson or case study
Once your expert or case study has been selected for interview you need to start working with them on a brief. Consider the three key messages your brand wants to get across through the interview and work together with your spokesperson to find a way of expressing them that feels natural and fits with their view. You should also talk about how they will weave a brand mention into the conversation in a genuine way. Providing your spokesperson with a bullet point list of the key messages so that they can refer back to them before the interview can also be useful.

#5 Say thanks – to your spokesperson and to the journalist
It’s a scary business putting yourself up for interview, so make sure your spokesperson knows you appreciated them doing it by saying thanks afterwards. If it went well, then positive feedback will boost their confidence, making them more willing to be interviewed again in the future. If it didn’t go so well, then a sensitive discussion about what they might change next time, coupled with lots of reassurance, will make them more likely to get back in the saddle.
You’ll also want to thank the journalist for working with you. Getting in touch after a great interview can help to solidify the relationship so say thanks, let them know what else you can provide and invite them to come to you again in future. Journalists want to work with PR’s they can trust to provide high quality contributors, so if you provided a great interviewee you’ll hopefully get a thank you in return and a great new contact.


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