Science can be difficult to understand — at least that’s what people often think.
Though many of the world’s most groundbreaking changes come from the fields of science and technology, these stories can be the most challenging to tell. If you’re trying to generate media coverage for your science or tech company, you’re going to have to get over that hurdle.
Make sure you can answer these questions about your company’s news:
Will your product/discovery save lives or make a difference in the way people live? Is it funny or moving? Find the right hook, and you’re in.
Case in point: the recent “twerking spider” news. Papers about animal behaviour are published every day, but the savvy folks behind this one made a hilarious connection with a current trend, and got tons of coverage as a result.
The essence of your story is NOT a list of the technical details of your product/discovery. Those are merely your supporting points.
Journalists will want to talk to an expert or two who can speak with scientific authority about the significance of the product/discovery. Offer media the chance to talk to a member of your team, e.g. the COO or lead researcher, who can talk about the essence of the story and their role in it, and answer questions on the technical details, if asked.
Bonus points if your expert can give personal anecdotes around the product/discovery. Who are the makers/designers/discoverers and why are they passionate about what they do? Was the product/discovery an accident? Or the result of many years of trial and error? Where did the idea come from? Does the product/discovery have a fun social backstory? A friendship? A romance? These are the stories journalists want to tell.
Journalists will want to support their stories with hard facts and numbers that are derived from reliable sources. Be able to offer a brief summary of one to three of the most salient, including references.
A cool photo or video of your team/product/discovery in action might just cinch the deal for media. Groups of people doing things, cool microscope images, your team racing their robot, one of your successful patients playing with her kids. IBM got everyone’s attention with their recent short film, A Boy and His Atom, a visual that’s equal-parts adorable and stunning that was made using the company’s cutting-edge technologies.
If at all possible, offer visuals of something more than your expert in a lab coat beside a machine. Please.
A little later on in your pitch you’ll need to give some background on how the product was developed or how the research was done. Distill this technical information into less than five sentences. That’s plenty for most journalists. If they need more, they can talk to your expert spokesperson, take a look at your fact sheet, see your website or Google it. If you give too much detail off the bat, you risk losing the story in it.
If you don’t give journalists context, they may not understand just how important your product/discovery is. Give them background information as necessary, again referencing reliable and accessible sources. Make sure you give a short, factual overview that will be equally useful for generalist reporters and journalists that specialize in your field.
Once you’ve answered these questions for yourself, lead your pitch with the essence of your story, and support it with human stories, your expert, stats, visuals and background information. Twerking reference optional.