Great stories happen all around you everyday.  What milestone did someone or something reach that you would tell a friend about?  What made you go “ahhh,” “are you kidding?” or “wow”? What is trending in the media, the calendar or your community that is being celebrated, or acknowledged in your retirement community?  What acts or heroism came about during a crisis?

One of the best ways to decide if you have or know of a story that you think might have media interest is to ask yourself:  “If I told this story to a stranger at a large party, would they be interested?”  If the answer is “yes” you probably have something powerful to garner the interest of the media.

So now that you know you have a great story, it is important to convince a few more people that you in fact do.  When we create a story at IVY, we ask ourselves:  So what (why is your story important)? Who cares (who would enjoy learning about this subject)? And what’s in it for me (does this make the editor/producer look good; will it engage their viewers/readers)? Answering these questions will help you compose your story that will achieve the greatest exposure possible and will minimize the dreaded self-promotion that media rejects.

Your next step is to determine how to substantiate the story.  Think about who can corroborate your account of the events that happened?  For example, if you have a terrific presentation, get a quote or two from people who attended and enjoyed it.  You should have at least one or two quotes to achieve this important verification of the story.

Now you can start writing!  Keep your facts towards the top of the story and make it as timely as possible.  Weave quotes into your content.  Be sure to include a standard “stock” paragraph about your community that gives the reader a bit of background about your community and of course a contact name, phone number, website and social media sites to view more information.  Next, establish the links you need to embellish the reader’s experience and find photos and/or video to further enhance your story.  We always try to own the photography — as that is often the most important part of reader’s/viewer’s experience.

Your next step is to decide who should know about your story both internally and in the media.  You may need to rewrite the story for several different venues:  social media, your blog, the website, different publications and media outlets. If you are lucky enough to get into the mainstream media with a story that will be written and produced by the sponsoring media, always offer to get photos for their stories.  You may only have a few paragraphs about your community in their two page spread, but having the photo will give you much greater presence that those communities who do not have one.