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If you have a story that needs to be told to help you get what you want, Elizabeth Griffin and Marissa Schwartz, Press Representatives from Boneau/Bryan-Brown (New York City) recommend the following steps to help you get your voice heard in the press.  Information about each step is contained in the other sections of this article.

Step 1. Think before you speak.  

Step 2. Be prepared for the outcome. 

Step 3. Do your homework.

Step 4. Think about how to pitch your story.

Step 5. Practice telling your story.

NOTE: Also consider creating a video in a manner that has a chance of going viral.

  • Be creative. What would make you respond to a video about your subject?
  • Think of the videos you know about that have gone viral. Is there anything they have in common from your point of view?
  • Post the video on all the free sites such as YouTube offsite link.

Step 1. Think Before You Speak

  • Before going forward, think to yourself: "Is this a story I really want to go public with?"  If you receive the publicity you're looking for, your health condition will be very public. The story could grow and involve other aspects of your life as well.
  • Think to yourself
    • Will this affect my family? 
    • Will this affect my job? 
    • My health care?
  • If there is a legal case pending, you might not be at liberty to share your story.  Check with your lawyer first.
  • Is this a story worth telling?  Be realistic: is this a story that will not only help you, but will also help others in the same or similar situations?
  • What are you asking for?  What change do you hope to come out of this?  Is this change only for you or is it also for others in similar situations?
  • Ask yourself: "Am I ready to be honest with myself and others about my situation?"

Step 2. Be Prepared For The Outcome

  • Do not expect your story to be picked up by network news or to go viral across the internet. However, it is possible for a human interest story to spread. Big stories that end up on national television start somewhere. 
  • Be ready to follow through no matter what.
  • Be aware that your story may gain both positive and potentially negative attention.  Hopefully people will support your issue and help the cause.  However, be prepared for the opposite.

Step 3. Do Your Homework

Consider both so-called old media (television, radio, newspapers, magazines) and new media (the internet) as potential outlets for your story.
Old Media
  • Start small with your local media outlets. Don't worry about the size of your audience. Local media feed off each other and there is always the potential for your story to grow. You can always submit your published clip to an even bigger media outlet later on.
  • Research local newspapers, magazines, television stations, and radio stations. Find out which ones cover health care, special interest, and any other segments or topics that would relate to your cause. Do not expect to talk to the station's lead anchor or personality. Start small.
  • Make a list of all the names of all the reporters from the local papers, radio stations, news stations and blogs that you've been researching who cover your subject.
  • Find out how to contact the reporters. Look at the publication's online website to start. Ideally, get a direct phone number. If you can't obtain a number, go for an e mail address or fax number. If all else fails, get the snail mail address.
    • Check their past stories for their contact information. Some news stations include their reporters' contact information at the end of a segment.
    • Check the organization's website.
    • Call the television or radio station or periodical. A receptionist can help point you in the right direction.
    • If all else fails, use a search engine such as Google or Dogpile, check the yellow pages, or call 411.

New Media

  • Research and contact online sites that cover health care, special interest, and any other segments or topics that would relate to your cause. For example, check  Huffington Post offsite link and ReaderSupportedNews offsite link
  • Consider posting your story on your own social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter, connective sites such as LinkedIn, as well as on other people's pages. In addition to telling your story, ask how the reader can help.  
  • Write comments on related stories, with a brief description of your story and a link to more information.

Step 4. Think About How To Tell Your Story

Old Media
  • Before submitting your story, research the reporter's style and what topics the reporter seems to like. Using this information will help you grab their attention. This way you can start your pitch with: "I've noticed you've covered [insert topic here] in the past. I have a story that I think you would be interested in."
  • If you believe you will be able to speak with a reporter directly, write out a script. It will help hone your thinking.
    • Keep it short. Right now you are simply pitching your story; you are not telling the person the whole piece. Remember, the pitch is WHY they should pick up your story. Don't give too many details, just the big idea.
    • Cover all your bases.
    • Make sure to include WHY your story is an important story to be told. Include how your story relates to others beside you.
  • If you write a reporter:
    • Describe in the first paragraph a one sentence summary of the situation and why it's important that the story to be told.
    • Tell your story as briefly as you can.
    • Let the reporter know how to contact you and when you are available to speak.
    • Spell-check your story and check to be sure of the spelling of all names you use - including name of the person you're contacting.
  • Get your information in order.
    • If the reporter wants more information about your story, he or she may ask for paperwork about the situation.
    • He or she may also ask to speak with other people involved in the story. If people will support your point-of-view, let them know what you are doing and ask if they are willing to speak with a reporter. If possible, ask what they would tell a reporter.
  • While pitching your story:
    • Do not start off with the negative. Starting your pitch with: "My lawyer or my family thinks it's hopeless, but...." will not gain a reporter's interest. You may also come off as wanting to use the media for your own agenda.
    • Do not pitch the story if you are not sure where you stand legally. Even if your case is over, you may not be at liberty to discuss it and you could lose any sort of settlement you already received.
    • Do not use profanity or let your emotions become out of control. You're talking to a professional. Act like one yourself. Cursing, screaming, or crying will not help your cause.

New Media

  • Consider the type of outlet, and the type of information that not only gets posted, but also highlighted. Note whether there is a particular style to the postings, including subject and length.
  • If you believe you will be speaking with someone from the publication, read the above advice about being prepared to speak with a reporter. It will be helpful in this situation as well.

Step 5. Practice Telling Your Story In Case Of Contact From A Reporter

If a reporter is interested in your story, the two of you will speak - whether your first contact with the reporter is on the phone or through writing.

  • Practice speaking your script.
    • Note the words and phrases you want to emphasize.
    • Say it to yourself in a mirror.
  • Prepare for questions.
    • Know your topic and your case.
    • Answering with "I don't know" and "maybe" will make you seem unprepared and not well-researched. If it turns out that you are asked a question you don't know the answer to despite your preparation, it is okay to say: "I don't know but I'll get the answer and get back to you."
    • Think about how to bring unrelated questions back to the points you want to emphasize. If you watch pros pitching their latest book or movie on television, you'll see that they always bring the subject back to the reason they're on the show. For example: "That's a very good question, but the most important thing people have to remember is....."
  • Practice with a few people who are close to you.
    • Tell them your story.
    • Ask for questions.
  • Once again, make sure what you say is not just about you but also about anyone in a similar situation. Even though this is your personal story, you are the voice of those who are unable to speak for themselves. You are not doing this just for you. You're doing this for all of you.

Written by Volunteers:

Elizabeth Griffin and Marissa Schwartz

Press Representatives:  Boneau/Bryan-Brown (New York City)