Story Development Runs Deep at Scheffey

Story Development Runs Deep at Scheffey

By: Hope Graby

Lucky 13. It’s hard to believe Scheffey has been in my blood for 13 years. And, while that also means I am 13 years older (on paper only), it also means I am 13 years better at doing what I do for Scheffey and our clients. I am a strategist, a writer, a communicator and a storyteller.

Being self-reflective, I often try to define the exact tangible that makes me good at what I do. I always come back to an innate skill of listening and understanding what motivates people to act or react – and a huge dose of common sense. I thrive on being able to instinctively ask the right questions and my ability to know what to do with the information I am given. I love the challenge of taking what I hear and finding the best way to craft and communicate the message in the most relevant way, to the people who need to hear it the most.

At Scheffey, I wear a number of hats. I lead marketing programs, I oversee our video story telling and commercial production and I lead the public relations strategies for our clients. And while strategic communications play a key role in all areas of marketing, it’s a crucial component to a successful public relations (PR) program.

Public relations is sales’ sexy sister. But, at the end of the day, PR is still sales. For every press release, press event or crisis communications strategy – I am selling a story or message to an editor in hopes of convincing them that their readers or viewers will see value in the story being told. Essentially, I am competing against hundreds of other pitches all vying for precious ink or airtime. Knowing what makes news, how to position a brand and how to work with the media are all crucial aspects of a successful PR campaign.

As a former broadcast news producer and manager, I have an edge in understanding these crucial components and an edge in helping to shape how the media covers a particular story. My years as a member of the media shaped how I approach story development and how I prepare our clients for the coverage I secure.

Here are my top three PR tips to help decide how, when and if to pitch a story:

1) Define who cares, aside from the people sitting around your table.

Remember PR is sales and if the story doesn’t inform, solve a problem, advance thinking or build excitement people may not care. Ideally, the story being pitched is not self-serving and generates impact beyond the walls of your building. Asking the right questions up front can help you define your direction and better position your story idea.

2) Consider the story developed beyond the hook.

I like to think of my pitches like an outline for a research paper. I start with a strong opening paragraph and add my supporting details. My clients are my sources who add validation, education or excitement. If you find yourself short on supporting details, go back to defining who cares and ask a few more thought-provoking questions. Often looking at the story from a fresh, outward perspective can give you the details you need.

3) Determine what media is most receptive to the story you’re selling.

This step starts with research to better know your audience. In this case your audience is the media, not the people buying your product or service. Certain stories are better for some writers or media outlets than others. Sometimes it comes down to a defined coverage area, in other cases it is knowing the type of stories that resonate most with various journalists. Understanding when to pitch and to who can go a long way in ensuring you get the coverage your story deserves. And, while pitching does not guarantee coverage, I guarantee you won’t get coverage if you don’t pitch. But remember, PR is sales and preparing for your pitch is as essential as preparing for that first sales call.

The most effective PR programs are sustained campaigns integrated into the full marketing plan. Committing to a PR strategy means committing to a long-term effort, regardless if you handle the strategy and tactical component in-house or partner with a PR firm to walk along side of you. Thinking of extending your reach with PR? Contact Scheffey for a conversation to see how PR could work for you.