Let’s reinforce the basics for media relations success: stories that are timely, out of the ordinary, targeted or local, and/or personality driven grab the most attention and get covered.

When we work with clients, we always go back to those key factors before pitching any media, whether it’s the local paper or CNN. And when a client has a great story to tell, we always try to GO BIG first — then the news will often trickle down to the local level.

For example: Our client, UnitedHealthcare, sponsored the UnitedHealthcare Memorial Challenge, a 500-mile therapy bike ride for wounded veterans and first responders. The event was timely (it kicked off on Memorial Day in Washington, D.C.), it was out of the ordinary (riders were piloting the first wearable technology to track and respond to PTSD episodes) and it was personality driven (we identified specific riders who have benefitted from cycling, many even significantly reducing their use of prescription medications). And the WOW element: the event kicked off with Vice President Mike Pence, Second Lady Karen Pence and Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin at the Vice President’s residence.

To start the media relations effort, we worked with DC bureaus of the top TV networks and cable stations, along with radio and daily papers. Then we reached out to stations in local markets with individual stories about different riders from those areas. This effort delivered national coverage from CNN, Fox News, Bloomberg Radio, HLN, The Daily Caller and The Hill, and more than 600 hits in markets across the country including WJLA, Fox5 and WTOP in D.C., WRIC-ABC in Richmond and The Virginia Gazette.

So the rule of thumb is this: when you have a great story on your hands, think about the largest outlets with the biggest reach and work your way down. And don’t forget about the wire services either. One hit with AP or Reuters or Fox News Edge can hit hundreds of markets.

Ready to go big with your story? Drop me a line to jfast@abelcommunications.com and let’s talk about it!


Jessica Fast is an account manager with Abel Communications. When she’s not crushing it with national media hits, she can be found at O’s games or playing with her young son and two dogs.