Pitching Captivating CSR & ESG-Focused Stories

This month, Barefoot PR’s Co-Founder and CEO Cori Streetman led a discussion with three local leaders in the media industry at the 2023 B:CIVIC Summit. The discussion was designed to help attendees understand how to cut through the fray and receive media coverage. Cori was joined by Kristine Strain, VP of news for CBS Colorado, Kourtney Geers, editor in chief of the Denver Business Journal (DBJ) and Tatiana Flowers, equity reporter for the Colorado Sun to discuss what newsrooms, editors and reporters are looking for when it comes to covering corporate social responsibility, ESG and community engagement.

Below are a few tips and key takeaways from the session: 

  • Press releases won’t cut it
    Reporters receive hundreds of pitch tips and emails every day. Simply sharing a press release announcing a new program or grant likely won’t result in meaningful media coverage. You’ll need to dive deeper to center the impact in a human way, and be able to share more about your organization beyond numbers or words on a page. 
  • Make sure your story is “sticky”
    Kristine from CBS Colorado shared that she’s always looking for the story that viewers will remember when they turn off the television. Stories that have emotion, center humans and have a wide impact for communities across the state. The stories of people will always be more compelling than a written press release or statement, and it’s important to find the people behind your stories. You may need to reimagine the angle for different outlets as newsrooms don’t want to simply tell the same exact story as their peers. 
  • Know who to pitch and what they’ll need
    Different outlets have different audiences, mediums they can use to share stories and assets they’ll need to do so effectively. Broadcast news requires visual assets, meaning photos or video and that will be vital to their ability to tell a compelling story. The DBJ focuses on business stories, so everything they cover will need a connection and relevance to that sector. Tatiana has a very specific beat, equity, and looks for stories that relate to this in some way, and impacts people across the state as the Colorado Sun aims for statewide coverage. 
  • Reporters are human too
    When you’re hoping for coverage, make an effort to understand what they cover, read any recent or relevant stories and connect with them on a human level. Just like any job, reporters are working hard with limited resources to tell compelling stories. They are more likely to talk through story ideas when they are familiar with you, your organization or project. Start building relationships by sending an email complimenting a recent story, sharing resources or information from your organization or just asking to grab coffee and catch up.

Finally, persistence and timing are key to cutting through the noise and connecting with the right reporter to tell your story. At the end of the day, all three panelists agreed that news is news and if it’s newsworthy enough, your story will get covered. So read your local news, know who to reach out to and form relationships to maximize your chances of coverage. But also understand that coverage can never be guaranteed.

Written by Marley Reifert, Senior Associate at Barefoot PR

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