Tell stories people want to hear…

…A blog on Janet Murray’s webinar “How to Build Your Influence in the Media”

(Written by Alice Finney)

With 15 years’ experience as a journalist for big national newspapers like The Guardian and The Times, Janet Murray is more than qualified to provide invaluable insight and insider tips on how to “build your influence in the media”. Her webinars and talks are renowned, and for good reason: many of the case studies she reports on are from real people who have used her advice and scored articles with some impressive publications. With this in mind, we tuned into to her webinar last Tuesday to gain some more knowledge on how best to get our clients in the media. Rather than relay the hour long session, we thought we’d sum up some of the key points and give you the lowdown in a quick, easy to read blog. What’s not to like?

How to become BFFs with journalists
First and foremost, Janet highlighted the importance of establishing your position with journalists. We all know that journos’ inboxes must be inundated with requests for pieces, pitches about products and invitations to events. To make sure you stand out from the crowd, Janet advises taking on one of three key roles:

1. Be a Story Teller. By this, she doesn’t mean become the next Stephen Fry or the next best Ted talker in the country. Journos aren’t interested in simply writing about how brill you brand/product is (unless of course, you’re paying them to do so). What they are really after is a compelling, riveting story which their audiences won’t be able to resist. You need to be able to pitch stories that people want to hear. Think creatively, give them something unusual or controversial and run with it.
2. Be a thought leader. Anyone who’s anyone these days has done this. Think back to when Gwyneth Paltrow fooled everyone she was the best health guru on the planet or when Pippa Middleton released a book on how to hold the party of the year. Both celebs pitched themselves as industry experts, promising to provide the nation with (ahem) “never heard before” advice. By pitching to journos through the lens of a thought leader, you position yourself as an expert and thus they are more willing to hear from you.
3. And last, but by no means least: become a teacher. Not literally. No one’s telling you to take up a PGCE course and get yourself back into the world of education. But, try putting on your metaphorical teaching hat (or grad hat, whichever works for you) and give your journo something they can learn from. Shift your focus from “how can I get my pitch past them” to “what can I give them to help them run a successful story”.

Aside from getting in journalist’s good books, Janet also ran us through how to build your influence through good old social media. Make yourself easy to find on platforms like Twitter and Instagram by outlining who you are in your bio and even providing contact details. Journalists actively search on such platforms when they are writing and researching a story so it makes sense to be visible and contactable. Alternatively, journalists often Tweet requests using the hashtag #journorequest (how original?), so keep one step ahead by searching that hashtag and finding opportunities to help a journo out!

And there you have it, in the time it’s taken you to heat up your Pret porridge and make the first latte of the day, you’ve become a journalist’s dream – as opposed to a nightmare.

Of course, for more great insight and tips, you should check out Janet’s webinar yourself!

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