Oct 28, 20194 comments



Journalists receive hundreds of emails every day pitching stories. Literally hundreds. And every single person sending every single last one of those emails thinks that theirs is a good story. About 90% of them are wrong.

If you read my blog last week, you’ll know that journalists are always interested in GOOD stories and that good stories are those that score at least four out of five when put through the TRUTH filter. In other words your story needs to be Topical, Relevant, Unusual, contain Tension and be Human to stand a chance of being part of the 10% or less that attract a journalist’s attention.

But what does this mean in practice? Here are some thoughts on how to generate media coverage with stories that are topical and / or unusual.


What is piggybacking?

Can you link your story to a currently trending issue. So, for example, something that’s already in the media or currently trending on Twitter? At the time of writing media focus is on: Brexit, Meghan & Harry, Jeffrey Epstein & Prince Andrew; Extinction Rebellion and Strictly Come Dancing.

Topical isn’t just about the big ‘hard news’ stories of the moment. In PR, we refer a lot to something called ‘piggy-backing’ where you notice a story and contact media with a follow up of some kind. So, let’s say that you work with women in leadership positions and you notice that a large brand / company has published its gender pay gap report – you might approach the media to offer them an opinion piece on the gender pay gap and the impact it has on morale amongst women leaders using case studies drawn from your client pool.

Another good example, the recent launch of the film Joker with Joaquin Phoenix has prompted some great stories including this one in today’s Daily Mail about how Instagrammers are flocking to the Bronx to pose for pictures on the now iconic Joker stairs. I have no way of knowing who placed this story but if I worked for whoever is responsible for tourism in and around the Bronx, this would be a great way of piggybacking on interest in the film to promote the area.

And you don’t have to wait for someone to write a story and then react to it. Piggybacking is something that you can also plan in advance…


Story Hooks

What about awareness days?

One question I get asked a lot is ‘What about ‘awareness days? Are they any use for driving coverage?’

Here’s the thing: there’s now an awareness day for everything from sandwiches to breast cancer and from horses to jazz music. There are now so many of them that journalists are somewhat bored of stories about them and there are some Editors for whom an awareness day story is an automatic NO. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t make it work.

An awareness day is not a story in it’s own right – what’s going to make it a story is if you are doing something that ticks the remaining boxes of the TRUTH filter: is it relevant, is it unusual, is there some element of tension, is it human?

Research can be a useful way of making a story relevant and unusual – especially if you’re covering an angle that’s not yet been explored. For example, it’s anti-bullying week in November. Some research into the % of adults who were bullied at school and are still dealing with the long term side-effects might be an interesting avenue for research particularly if you’re a coach who works with clients who lack confidence and can illustrate your research with real-life case studies and stories.

– Be the local example of a national story – the local press are often overlooked by campaigners and social enterprises but, depending on your audience, they can be really useful and if you can make your local story relevant to a national issue then they’ll want to cover it. For example: in November Cancer Research UK are urging people to ‘take the veg pledge’ and go vegetarian for the month. You might contact the local press and see if they’d be interested in a story about your trials and tribulations as a vegetarian for the month.

– Create an unusual event – so for example April is World Autism Month and iconic buildings around the world turn blue to mark the occasion. In 2018, the buildings taking part included The White House; the Burj Khalfa in Dubai and the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. That’s a great and unusual picture story.

– Develop something useful – so for example, on 7 December we have Small Business Saturday – how about creating an interactive guide or map to small businesses in your local area? Or on White Ribbon Day (raising awareness around domestic violence), if you’re a coach you might produce an advice piece on how to offer support to friends who might be experiencing domestic violence.

– You can also use an awareness day to launch your own related campaign or challenge. So in Alcohol Awareness Week in November, you might ask your followers on social media to take part in a challenge around mindful drinking.

Relevance. Relevance. Relevance.

Let’s say you’ve come up with an idea for a story that you think ticks all the boxes of the TRUTH filter. Firstly, congratulations! That’s not easy to do. Now, you’ve got to get a journalist to pay attention. And this is where the R of TRUTH becomes super important: Relevance.

On my virtual, live training course Actually: How to Change the World – one of the things we discuss is the importance of having a clear idea of your top 10 media targets and building a relationship with these journalists over time. As I said in my blog last week, journalists are human beings which means they are more likely to read an email or answer a call from someone they know.

Assuming you have some kind of relationship with a journalist, don’t ruin it by trying to pitch an irrelevant story to them. A story hooked to Small Business Saturday is going to be irrelevant to a sports journalist on The Sun.  A story about your research on the gender pay gap is going to be irrelevant to a retail correspondent. And a story about the long-term side-effects of bullying in school is probably not going to be relevant to a political editor. Understand what kinds of stories your target journalists are looking for (and you should know this – or why are they on your target list?) and the kinds of things that their readers are interested in.


That’s it…not really…

I hope that this blog has given you some ideas and suggestions that get your creativity flowing. There are additional considerations – the best format to send a story idea to a journalist (email no attachments) and the best time of day (depends on their deadline and editorial meetings) etc. But this is meant as a starting point.

Let’s ACTUALLY change the world!


Sara Price

Founder, Actually

October 2019


  1. Anne

    Thank you Sara , This article has been extremely useful . I’ve had very limited dealings with the press and that was in my NHS role when things went sensationally wrong and they sought me out . I’ve never submitted an article myself

    Have a great day
    Anne xxx

    • Sara Price

      Thank you Anne. I’m so glad you found it useful.

  2. Rosie

    Thank you Sarah. This has suggested an additional route for me to pursue.

    A couple of practical notes about this page
    – it loads on my Google browser without a LH margin, making it slightly tricky to read
    – the calendar link generates a 404 response
    Could just be my settings I suppose.

    Finding your site thought-provoking; keep it up!

    • Sara Price

      Hi Rosie – thanks so much for your comment and feedback. We’ve sorted out the technical glitches now so I do hope that you can now access the calendar of notable dates? Sara x


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week I wrote a newsletter that caused more people to unsubscribe from my list than almost anything I have ever written before. I'm not concerned - clearly they are not my people - but I thought I'd share it here so you can tell me: would this cause YOU to unsubscribe?


"Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, except backwards and in high heels."

I remember the first time I heard that quote.

I was in my teens. I laughed.

Then as I began to think seriously about my career, my Mum explained to me that to be a successful career woman meant working twice as hard as a man to be considered half as good (and paid half as much).

I was in my early twenties. I thought she was exaggerating.

After I burnt out for the second time, I went to a conference and listened to a passionate and eloquent woman - who has subsequently become a great friend - explain something that should have been utterly obvious to me: that our entire cultural paradigm is based on structures set up by men and for men.

I was in my forties. And I cried.

Because it is exhausting having to don your Superwoman cape every day to ‘compete’ in the workplace.

As a single woman, I didn’t have to juggle work with family.

As a white, middle-class, cis-gendered, heterosexual and mainly able-bodied woman, I wasn’t dealing with the raft of intersectional prejudices beyond your average, everyday sexism.

But I was still exhausted.

And it wasn’t just because the systems that we work within weren’t designed for women but for men who had stay-at-home wives doing all of the work in the home.

It’s because for me - as for so many women - every day was and is a balancing act.

Every day is a tightrope walk between safety and danger; between being listened to and dismissed; between familiarity and harassment; between authenticity and playing the game.

Every day is a fight to be seen, to be heard, to be respected, to be autonomous, to be considered, to be valued, to be safe.

Every day.

In the workplace, in our social spaces, in our homes, in our politics, in our media.


This week my friend and client Harriet Waley-Cohen shared a post about this on LinkedIn. I’m going to share a section of her post here because she has put this so much more eloquently than I could:

"Sometimes it amazes me that there isn't a massive uprising.

Women are fed up of being objectified and judged on our looks, and only respected by how fu*&able we are deemed to be.

We are exhausted by feeling unsafe everywhere we go and watching our backs.

We are exasperated with not being paid the same, of our careers, choices and finances being marginalised because of caring expectations.

We are in despair about our allegations against powerful men being ignored because these men are too valuable to be held to account.

We are done with being told our tone of voice is the bloody problem, that we are too emotional.

We have had enough of not being able to trust the police or the legal system, and of people saying 'innocent until proven guilty' when the stats for prosecutions are laughably low and we all know most rapists never face any real consequences.

We are fed up of being told that it's not all men, because we never said it was, and it hurts to see so few men actively working towards making things better."

There has been an outpouring of grief, support and righteous anger in the comments on Harriet’s post. Of course there has. Because this is nearly every woman’s lived experience. And it is not OK.

I have written about these issues before in this newsletter. In the wake of the Sarah Everard murder and after the US Supreme Court struck down Roe v Wade. And there’s a part of me that didn’t want to write about this again. A part of me was concerned that you - my wonderful community - would grow bored of me ‘ranting on’ about this issue. A part of me that feared being judged or dismissed.

And that’s exhausting too, right?

The constant self-censorship. The constant voice in my head telling me that I can’t say this, shouldn’t write about that, mustn’t be too emotional, too strident, too ‘shouty’.

Well, in the nicest possible sense: f*&k that.

I am in my fifties now and as tired as some people may be of hearing me talk about these things, trust me I am WAY more tired of still having to talk about them. But until there is equity, it is up to every one of us to keep ‘banging on’.

And we need to do more than rant, we need to ACT.

Because here’s the thing, whatever your gender, you can either be an ally or you can be complicit in the problem. Please choose to be an ally. Here are three things you can do:

  1. Support people like Harriet when they share publicly about these issues. This kind of content often attracts trolls and the ‘not all men’ brigade - and it can be overwhelming to have to do all the rebuttal yourself. Another friend and client - the fabulous Stephanie Aitken, also did a post this week on a related topic and spent many hours having to deal with trolls in the comments. Help them.


  1. Call out misogyny, sexism, harassment, prejudice and bigotry when you see it - and when you feel safe to do so. I’m not advocating that you intervene when doing so would put you in real physical danger. But if a colleague makes an off-colour remark; if a family member behaves in a way that is inappropriate; if a friend displays ignorance, aggression or bias: name it. Don’t just smile and secretly roll your eyes. Don’t dismiss it. Don’t be afraid to be ‘awkward’. Have the conversation.


  1. Engage the next generation. Several of the commenters on Harriet’s post talked about children watching violent porn. They shared stories of how boys’ attitudes to girls are in some cases worse now than they were when I was a teen. The murder of Elianne Andam this week makes it clear just how important it is to speak to our children about these issues. Talk to the young people in your life. Find out about their experiences. Give them a safe space to explore these issues. And educate them about respect and equity. If we are going to break this cycle, this is VITAL work. Don’t shy away from it.  

There is so much more that we could all be doing but this would be an amazing start!

OK. Rant over, for today.

I’m not promising I won’t come back to this again.

My most fervent wish is that there will come a day when it won’t be necessary.

I hope to see that day in my lifetime.

My biggest fear is that I will not.






I think that will do for now - I do hope it has been helpful!

Big love