How to find the ‘PR hook’ in your story

How to find the ‘PR hook’ in your story
Fiona Minett
Fiona MinettBoss Your PR

Posted: Wed 8th Dec 2021

A PR hook can feel like an elusive gem waiting to be delicately unearthed before being polished into something dazzling.

This is often because the threshold for interest is much higher for PR activity than it is for advertising. Advertising allows you to offer a completely controlled narrative; whatever story you decide to tell, whatever highlight you deem to be a hook, there is no editorial or subjective threshold to meet.

With PR, however, your story and offer must be of interest, as your PR success will rely on the hook on which you pin your approach.

Getting to the core of your brand and your story is often one of the hardest parts of the PR process, but finding your hook ultimately boils down to the principle of: ‘Is this interesting enough for a journalist to feature me, above all others?’

At this stage, it is crucial to remember that what is interesting to us about our own life or business, may not be interesting to others.

Objectivity is critical in passing the editorial threshold - the burden of proof is on you to capture a journalist’s attention and convince them that you are worthy of being featured and that you, and your story, will be of interest to their readers.

While there is no one-size-fits-all, definitive process to decipher your PR hook, there are steps to take and questions to ask when it comes to finding that gleaming little gem of a story:

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First and foremost, you need clarity

You need to find clarity on your brand vision, messaging and what your aim is with this communication. Clarity and transparency are essential.

It is not a journalist’s job to decipher your pitch; they need to read, absorb and be able to understand it quickly in order to ascertain how relevant, or not, it is likely to be to them and their readership.

Understand what sets you apart from your competitors

What is your USP as a professional or as a brand? To an impartial observer, what would first stand out about you or your brand? By objectively answering these questions you will start to form a narrative around what makes you or your offer distinctive from others and therefore more interesting to the media.

Consider your objective with media outreach

Are you looking to raise brand awareness, are you looking to position yourself and your expertise or are you looking to push a product and increase sales?

The goals will determine where you share your hook and what kind of coverage you will be looking for. Some research into the media preferences of your target audience will always be of use at this stage, so perhaps survey some customers or clients for some starting points.

If you’re looking for brand awareness and expert positioning, sharing more of your personal story and expertise will fit with industry media, business media or perhaps lifestyle media where you could share more of an inspiring narrative.

If you are a consumer-facing product business looking to reach a mass audience of potential customers, you will probably be looking to push the merits of the product to weekly magazines, newspapers and supplements to lay claim to space in their product round-ups.

What direction do you need to go in with your hook? Is it you and your brand or is it your product?

Capture the zeitgeist

Having an independently strong hook can be a great tool for successful PR, but what if you could find a hook that was of the moment, capturing the zeitgeist or providing insight or value on a key topic of the day?

This adds a new layer and takes us into ‘newsjacking’ territory, where a PR opportunity can be amplified by the perfect mix of demand from the media on a certain topic and supply from a relevant and timely PR hook or story.

The Covid-19 pandemic has been a powerful example of this very ‘of the moment’, responsive PR activity. The media jumped into content creation and conversations around how people and businesses were reacting to the situation, and this created media opportunities for people to tell their stories and raise their visibility in a time when business survival was paramount.

Businesses have been finding opportunities to share the story of how they have pivoted their models, taken their business online & found success, changed direction to plug gaps in wider services or how they have stepped up capacity to better support their local communities.

Business coaches, retail experts and strategists have been able to position their expertise, give value to the media outlets they speak to and to support their audiences through this type of content. Month-on-month, keep an ear to the ground for these opportunities, awareness days or news stories that may perfectly marry with your hook or story.

Maintain awareness of the editorial threshold and be objective

The strength and success of your PR activity will be in making sure that your hook is relevant and has value. The final test? Does your hook pass the ‘So What?’ test?

Ask yourself that question at every stage to remain objective, in order to avoid a journalist asking that same question when your pitch lands with them. You want there to be no hesitation and no doubt that this is a great story which is perfect for them.

Remember though, no one owes you anything. The quality of your story and how well you communicate it will be what makes the difference.

Relevant resources

Fiona Minett
Fiona MinettBoss Your PR
Consumer PR expert providing comprehensive insight, resources and training to ensure that any entrepreneur and business owner can do their own PR in a time and cost effective manner, achieving the same results as any PR pro.

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