Lessons to be learned from the recent presidential election

Regardless of your political affiliation, the recent presidential election holds some major lessons when it comes to news writing and media pitching. Here are just four of them:

  1. Timing – The news media usually does not plan ahead. It typically reports on the daily activities of the world around it. But there are a few exceptions, including a presidential election. The news media knows in advance the election will take place once every four years on the first Tuesday in November.

Does your organization have any sort of connection to either the election or another annual national event, such as Thanksgiving, Christmas or MLK Day? You can make that pitch much sooner than usual because the media already knows in advance it will be looking for related stories to report.

2. The Power of “ST” – The news media is fascinated with words that end in the letters “ST”. Much of the reason the media (and the nation) is so excited about VP-Elect Kamala Harris is because she is the first woman, the first Black woman and the first person of South Asian descent to be elected vice president. A graduate of Howard University, she is also the first major-party nominee to hold a degree from a historically Black college or university, according to the Washington Post.

Do you have a potential story that includes a word that ends in the letters “ST”? For instance, is your organization the first to do “X” or has it become the largest or the last to do “Y”? If you have an “ST” word related to your story, make sure you mention that when you’re pitching a reporter.

3. The More, The Merrier – A record number of voters participated in the election, indicating their strong interest in the outcome. Voters across the nation were glued to their tv sets for days as the networks updated the results around the clock.

The more people who will potentially be impacted by your news, the more interest the media will have in your pitch. If your story impacts only a few people, you might want to consider not pitching the story. If you determine your news could impact large numbers of people, make sure you mention that to the reporter you’re pitching.

For instance, news stories about common household items or consumer products used by countless people are likely to be picked up. When I worked in the financial services industry, it was easy to pitch stories about new ATM features. Why? Because so many people use ATMs. I found that stories about esoteric topics, such as commercial banking or wealth management products for the ultra-wealthy, were much harder to place.

  1. Back Story – Some of the coverage about Joe Biden and Kamala Harris has focused on their humble beginnings and how they worked hard to achieve success in life and politics. In their speeches, both have mentioned the family members who inspired them and taught them lessons they use to this day.

The news media enjoys reporting these back stories, especially those that involve overcoming large obstacles. Does your organization’s leader have a good back story to tell? Is it something she or he feels comfortable sharing with a reporter? It might make for a good story pitch.

It doesn’t matter if the election results made you happy or sad. Use the experience as a life lesson that will help your future news writing and pitching efforts succeed.

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