Three Things EDOs Must Deliver to Journalists

June 20, 2024
Group of EDO journalists outdoors reading the newspaper and looking happy

When it comes to pitching stories to business journalists, economic development organizations (EDOs) and marketers need to focus on the basics. There’s no magic trick to attract journalists’ attention—but without three essential components of a media pitch, landing placements will be difficult.

Stories about economic development and talent attraction are still just that: stories. As you prepare to send out a media advisory, pitch or press release in hopes of landing coverage, step back and check off these three boxes first to ensure you are delivering what journalists need and want.

1. Characters

It’s easy to tell someone there is an investment trend happening in a city or that there is a shift in how talent is moving around the nation. To show it, however, a journalist needs sources.

Specifically, real people can help a journalist better understand what’s happening in your community and can also provide authentic and tangible examples of the real-world impact of the trend. A cast of characters and their unique voices and stories are necessary ingredients to any journalist’s reporting process and, ultimately, to any meaningful storytelling.

To position yourself as a true resource to journalists and increase your chances of story success, every pitch must include the names of people you can connect the journalist to in your city or region.

2. Conflict

The mantra of journalism for decades has been, “If it bleeds, it leads,” and while not every good story needs gore, it is essential that some conflict be present.

After all, there’s no happy ending to tell if everything was fine to begin with—audiences want to hear resolutions or solutions to problems and conflicts. In a media pitch, it’s vital for EDOs to provide journalists with the conflict that some new investment or trend is resolving. 

For example, new efforts to renew a downtown area may be combatting the loss of local businesses. A redevelopment project in a corporate center may be repurposing largely abandoned offices. Pinpointing that for journalists will ensure their interest is piqued.

In some cases, the conflict can be tied to a larger, more widespread conflict than one specific to your community. For example, pointing to statistics around heart disease being the leading cause of death is a conflict that can be leveraged in a pitch to showcase your community’s medical industry and the groundbreaking work taking place to advance new treatments of the disease. 

The conflict, however, will most often be specific to your community. It may be uncomfortable to highlight this proactively to a journalist, so remind yourself that every good story needs some element of tension. By proactively owning this part of the story, you’ll be in the best position to capture the reporter’s interest and ultimately secure a story that highlights how your community is tackling important issues head-on.

3. Context

Where journalism differs largely from fiction is that context is key. Audiences will read a novel about vampires and seek good characters and conflict, but they don’t care how it impacts the world. It’s fiction, after all.

But in a news cycle, every story needs to be set in some sort of context. Often, the media requires that something be newsworthy—defined in various ways—so that audiences understand why a story is important now.

If there is conflict and a colorful character in your media pitch, but ultimately, it affects no one in your community, then it’s important to ask why that story is worth telling. Readers, viewers and listeners must know why they should bother paying attention—but first and foremost, journalists need to know so they can share the story. 

Increase your chances of getting coverage by spelling it out for the media. It could be something as simple as a fresh statistic or projection by a research group, but your media pitch will fall flat without the appropriate context that makes us all care.

With the right characters, some conflict to resolve, and the proper context, a media pitch has the greatest chance possible of becoming a story in a target media outlet. However you evaluate the success of your media placements, don’t shortchange your PR efforts by leaving any of these three out.

There are so many considerations when it comes to contacting the media, making it daunting for EDOs to know if they’re doing it right. Contact Caitlin Teare, VP Public Relations, Economic Development, at [email protected] to learn about working with DCI and to tap into the agency’s 60+ years of marketing experience to optimize your EDO’s pitching efforts to journalists.

Written by

Caitlin Teare

Vice President, Public Relations