Thursday, January 31, 2008

Finding Your Hook

Getting your organization's story into the press comes from a combination of great storytelling, great press outreach, and a great hook.

What's a hook? It's that one thing that makes your story interesting, relevant, and immediate. Jocelyn Harmon over at the Non Profit Technology Blog refers to this idea of a hook (she calls it an "X Factor") as:
[...] a precipitating event which brings or gives RELEVANCE to your cause [...] having an X Factor is extremely helpful, if not imperative, in making your cause spread like fire.
A great hook (or X Factor) usually makes the difference between getting a press hit, and not getting one. If you can't find a way to make your story relevant in your press release, it's unlikely that the reporter who receives your pitch is going to find it for you.

Try this exercise (hat tip to Charles Brown for this approach) to get yourselves in the habit of always finding a hook for your story:
  1. Take an article or topic off the web and send it to a group of 5 people asking them to come up with a “connection” to your sector?
  2. What is the key message from the story that resonates for your sector?
  3. Which of your sector's key messages is in line with the story?
  4. Is there a local connection to the story?
  5. What connections are there to your sector's target audience(s)?
No matter how often you tell your organization's story, it's up to you to make it fresh, relevant and compelling each and every time. Get in the habit of scanning headlines and trends for hooks that might work for your organization. Or make your own by publishing research findings, conducting a survey, or hosting a forum.

Try it right now. Go to Google News and see if you can find a connection between your organization and the top news story of the hour. Ask 4 of your colleagues to do the same thing. Are their answers the same as yours? Different?

If it's your job to get your organization into the news, this is a great way to get your PR juices flowing. If you need more inspiration, check out the Non Profit Blog Exchange for links to other articles that might also help get you going.


Jocelyn said...


Thanks so much for linking to this post. FYI, Alison McQuade at Global Giving gets all the credit for the "X Factor."

Look forward to following your blog.


Leyla Farah said...

You're more than welcome - it was a great post and I was happy to refer to it! Keep the good stuff coming. :)