Cooking dinner for a journalist


My wife recently signed our family up for a meal kit delivery service. You’ve probably received enough fliers offering a free meal with one of them to fuel a bonfire.

A box arrived at our house with some raw chicken, veggies, a few spices and a recipe. We certainly could have gone to the store ourselves and purchased those same items and looked up a similar recipe online. But there was something great about it coming straight to our door, in a refrigerated box, ready to go. It made our part much easier.

Journalists are crazy-busy, and like everyone else, they appreciate when there is something that makes their life and job easier.  In this scenario YOU are the meal delivery service. You can give them everything they need to write their story, in a tidy little package all ready to go. Just like my family had to do the actual cooking, journalists still have to do the actual writing or production, but you’ve made it much, much easier for them.

I call this principle Do It For Them, or DIFT, and I’ve been teaching it to PR audiences for years. As traditional newsrooms have gotten smaller, the demands on remaining journalists have increased. They are expected to write more stories on more platforms, and many simply don’t have the time and resources to get it all done.

A reporter may like your story idea about the impact of student loans on millennials. And if that’s all your email included, maybe he’ll decide to look into that down the road, if nothing better comes along.  DIFT can help turn that maybe into a yes.

Along with your story idea, include everything your journalist would need to actually write the article. You can start by including a third-party source. This could be research not conducted by your company, or the analysis of an opinion leader unconnected with your organization. In some cases, it might even mean tracking down other similar companies for a round-up.

Next, give them a great visual. A video is ideal and even if it’s just b-roll it saves the reporter a lot of work when they don’t have to shoot it themselves. You might include a compelling chart that shows student debt increases over the years. You might even have a picture of a group of debt-ridden millennials commiserating over avocado toast. What journalist wouldn’t love that?

Tracking down real people (not executives or company spokespeople) can take up a lot of a reporter’s time. Connect them with people they can interview who have been affected by your issue and are willing to share their story.

Doing It For Them helps you build relationships who will come to see you as a trusted source. It also makes it much more likely that they will run your story.

This article was originally published on Mar 27, 2019.