Ukrainian refugee Irina Kryvoviaz (right) with host Sarah Allen-Stevens as she settles into her new home in North Moreton, Oxfordshire. Picture date: Friday April 8, 2022. Picture by: Steve Parsons/PA Wire/PA Images
PA Media turns its journalists’ know-how and editorial expertise into guidance to help businesses understand, shape and make the news. Here, Alan Marshall at PA Mediapoint, draws on this knowledge and insight to help you reach your intended audience and avoid being dismissed by newsdesks, correspondents and producers.
1. Elicit a strong emotional response
From scandals about people in power generating outrage, to funny or weird stories making people laugh, content that elicits a strong emotional response tends to resonate with people. Among the most common words used in headlines of PA Media’s best performing stories of 2021 are: ‘Covid’, ‘hospital’, ‘restrictions’, ‘lockdown’ and ‘vaccine’.
Covid has touched so many human emotions including fear, sadness, anger and disgust, as well as triumph regarding vaccines and lockdown easing. PA Media’s guide to 2022, which was published in January and looked ahead to the coming year in the news landscape, predicted that many of these themes from the last two years for the health and social care sectors would continue into 2022 - the major ones being Covid, system pressures and workforce shortages.
Amongst the doom and gloom, however, people are hungry for light entertainment and escapism, which is why funny and bizarre stories can cut through too. Uplifting stories, such as the former marine who drove to the Ukraine border to deliver supplies to refugees, can also land successfully.
2. Offer strong visuals
The human brain can comprehend visual content much faster than text-based content. This offers you the opportunity to be quite innovative - whether it be photos, videos, icons, charts, graphs or diagrams - but make sure it’s pertinent to your story.
If there are lots of facts and statistics in your story, such as the upcoming local elections, then graphs and charts can be useful. If it’s an event that elicits emotion, such as families being reunited after Covid lockdowns, refugees being welcomed by their host families, or Pride month coming up in June, then a brilliant photograph or video clip can capture the moment and help connect your audience in a compelling way.
Members and supporters of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT+) community preparing for the annual Pride parade in London, UK (2019). Contributor: Guy Corbishley / Alamy Stock Photo
Cutting through the Covid noise has been a challenge for many PRs. If you can offer a news outlet original visuals along with an exclusive story, such as a ‘behind the scenes’ visual for a niche story, that could give you the edge you need. Some other key events coming up in 2022 which may present such an opportunity include the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 in July, the British Science Festival in September and the UN Climate Change Conference in November. See PA Mediapoint’s guide to 2022 for more key events and dates.
Journalists can receive thousands of press releases each day, so a strong visual narrative could be just what your story needs to stand out from the rest, along with a succinct caption that says who, what, when and where. Picture editors are particularly compelled by regionality at the moment - for example a collection of stories from around the UK with matching visuals can be hard to ignore.
Visuals can evoke a range of emotions - do you want your story to make your audience laugh, cry, crave a chocolate truffle or recall a childhood memory? Choose visuals that reflect the brand you’re representing and elicit the right emotions from your target audience.
3. Give advice to your target audience
There’s an increasing trend towards people wanting information that offers them advice on topics they’re interested in, such as careers, personal finance and how to navigate the pandemic and cost of living crisis.
Some of the top trends our content specialists identified for 2022 include inflation remaining well above target levels, the National Insurance rise continuing to bite and ongoing risks for stretched global supply chains. By using such insights you can plan content that will help your audience accordingly.
Ask your target audience what they want to know and what will help them improve their life in some way. People are more likely to read something they perceive will be useful to them.
Check out PA Mediapoint’s guide to 2022, which features insights from its key spotlight journalists, designed to help you understand and pre-empt the key stories and trends ahead, and cut through the noise.
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PA Media is a diverse portfolio of specialist media companies spanning news and information, data, technology, marketing and communications. Its flagship brand, PA Media, is the national news agency for the UK and Ireland. It provides customers across the media, sport, corporate, betting and public sectors with the broadest range of content, products and services to inform and entertain their audiences.
PA Mediapoint connects the PR and communications industry with influential journalists, content creators and distribution solutions, to ensure unparalleled support from its editorial expertise to achieve impact across the news ecosystem.
This article was inspired by PA Media’s PA Meets in 2021: What makes a story cut through the noise?