Thursday, September 6, 2007

TV Reporter Jeff Crilley Shares Some Secrets to Getting News Coverage

A couple of years ago Lanny and the Mental Management Team met News Reporter Jeff Crilley at one of his Free Seminars. We have enjoyed getting to know him and think his message might be helpful to some of our clients who own businesses or volunteer for non-profit organizations and need to get news coverage. Below is an article we posted in a past newsletter from Jeff. If you live in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area he has a "Do It Yourself" PR group that meets each month. (Lanny spoke for one of hi meetings earlier this year)


By Jeff Crilley, Author, Free Publicity

Do you have a great idea for a story, but no clue how to get it in the news? Are you tired of pitching press releases the news media simply ignores?

After twenty years of beating the street as a TV reporter, I have a scoop for you: the media needs good stories. But most stories are pitched so poorly, they are lost in the blizzard of faxes that blanket every newsroom.

So, here are five steps to increase your chances of getting covered that even some PR pros don't know:


The old adage about "Man bites dog" still holds true. The news doesn't cover what's normal. We cover the abnormal.

Holding a golf tournament? That's not necessarily news. Check your paper. If
you live in a large city, there are probably a half-dozen tournaments every weekend. But if you created an unusual event, you just might get coverage.

I've heard of tournaments that get great publicity with a helicopter golf ball drop. They sell chances for large cash prizes by writing the person's name on the ball and then hire a helicopter to drop a thousand golf balls over a hole. If your ball drops in the hole, you win. Sometimes the photo of all those balls dropping will make the front page.


Reporters tell stories with pictures. If the pictures aren't there, chances are the reporters won't be either.

Even the most non-visual story can be made visual if you're creative. Recently outdoor gun ranges all across the country made TV newscasts by inviting reporters out to talk about safety and to show on a target what the spray of gunshot from Vice President Dick Cheney's accident might have looked like .


Perhaps the most common mistake even some PR pros make is trying to sell a good story to the wrong person. Most reporters have a specialty, like "crime" or "business."

So, seek out the reporter who will have the most to benefit from your story. Start studying the news. Before you call a TV station or try and pitch the paper, become familiar with a reporter's work. Don't try and sell an investigative story to a reporter who covers entertainment.


If I were going to send a press release to a reporter, I'd write the kind of headline that a newspaper would run. And I'd make the rest of the release so conversational that a TV anchor could read it right on the air.

Why is this so important? A major market newsroom gets hundreds of press releases every day. Often the decision on whether to cover your story is made in a matter of seconds. Many times that well-crafted sentence in the third paragraph of your press release is never read.


The holidays are the slowest "news times" of the year. When government offices are
closed, so are most of our sources. Take advantage of it.

In fact, take out your calendar and begin circling government holidays. If the government isn't making news, we reporters are scrambling to find something to cover. Pitch even an average story on a day when the media is starving for news, and you're much more likely to get coverage.

There you go. Now you're armed with knowledge that even some well-paid public relations professionals don't practice. If your idea is unique, visual, and pitched to the right person when the supply of news is running thin, you're in!

Jeff Crilley is an Emmy Award Winning Reporter who speaks at no charge on PR. His book Free Publicity is available at bookstores everywhere or online at

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