2. MAKE SURE YOUR DATA IS RELIABLE
This is perhaps the most important point when running a survey, specifically when considering whether it’s going to make headlines, let along get any coverage at all. The first thing media outlets will want to know about your survey is the sample size. Unless there is a very good, justified reason, the minimum number of respondents your survey should have is 1000 but ideally journalists would be looking for 2,000. The reason? Because this gives you a stronger cross section of the population. Anything smaller and you can’t realistically say that this result is a reflection of general opinion.
Hollie also stated that the survey has to have enough evidence. This goes beyond survey size. Think about medical research. Paraphrasing Hollie’s example, if you’re surveying the likelihood of something effecting children in later life because of research on them as children is that going to make a full story? Yes it may be an interesting finding and hypothesis but the reality is audiences are going to have to wait at least 18 years until the findings on that research can be proven, meaning there just isn’t enough evidence for a full story.
Journalists will also want to know that your data has come from a reputable research company who have a track record of supplying data to the media. If not it throws doubt on to the reliability of your survey and means that the data and questioning will have conformed to industry regulations and removed most potential risks for the publishers.
3. CASE STUDIES MAKE THE DIFFERENCE
Case studies give stories something vital – a human face. Remember that no matter who your intended audience, they have something in common. They are people. By adding a case study and a human face to your story you not only make it instantly more relatable but also provide evidence that your stats aren’t just nonsense and, depending on the research, give your audience an opportunity for empathy.
It was commented on by both Angela and Hollie that a case study can be the difference between a good or mediocre survey stories becoming great stories. Whilst the data may be good, showing an example of how a person lives there life in an unusual or extreme way (backing up your research) is the really interesting element for publishers, broadcasters and audiences alike, securing your better coverage for your story.
Also if your data reflects changes in another country and people are hard to gain access to back up what you’re data shows, is there any visual content that could provide the evidence? Photos of people acting a certain way or demonstrating the changes that your data discusses? Videos that capture cultures or behaviours? Hollie commented that these kinds of visual are great assets to have when pitching to broadcasters as it gives them something to show on screen during the interview.
4. THINK ABOUT YOUR SPOKESPERSON.
Who is fronting your campaign? It could be the key to your story getting picked up or ‘getting spiked’. This is something that not only came up in this breakfast seminar, but has come up time after time across the series.
For print or online coverage a spokesperson can add breadth and depth by giving a voice to your story. But don’t just pick anyone. Think about how well relatable they are to the campaign. Do they have a link to the subject matter? Are you just recruiting them because it will be good brand exposure? Don’t just pick the CEO of your brand, unless it adds something more. Think about what their contribution adds to the article. Can they discuss it as a reflection of the consumer landscape or will they just use the opportunity as an advert. If it’s the latter, go back to the drawing board.
Whilst choice of spokesperson is key across all media, for broadcast it’s imperative. Unlike in print or online, your spokesperson will be the face/voice of your research on TV and radio. They need to be able to talk coherently about the topic under discussion. Whilst they don’t need to memorize the stats, they will need to able to talk around the subject. It’s therefore not only important they are comfortable in front of the camera but also that they have a personal link to what they are talking about in order to bring anecdotal or passion to the discussion.
Although they don’t need to be ‘famous, celebrities can add a real hook to your campaign…as long as they are relevant. A famous face won’t be enough in itself. So for example if your research looks at the number of people in the UK suffering with a certain ailment or illness, does your spokesperson suffer from it or look after anyone that does? If it’s about the number of people participating in sport, so they have a sporting pedigree?
As well as coming in to front your campaign, think about the interview as a whole. Are they happy to deviate from the topic to talk about their own lives, or about things they have coming up? Are the prevalent in the news agenda?
Finally, this may seem obvious but if you want to land first tier coverage then it’s vital that your spokesperson is available to do it. Schedules won’t wait for them. Ask them if they are free to be interview at any day or time other than your scheduled broadcast day.
Hollie Goodall, Planning producer, Sky News Sunrise