Journalists often mention the huge volume of emails they receive on a daily basis - 90% of which is ignored because it is irrelevant to their target audiences. This begs the question: Why do people (usually PR people) send journalists media releases that have zero chance of making it into the news?
It is mostly because they don’t do their homework. Understanding what the media needs is the first step to success. For example, there’s no point in sending an Auckland-specific media release to the Otago Daily Times because the story is not relevant to that publication’s readers.
It is also important to understand the media outlet. If it’s a publication - what regular columns it runs, what stories it covers and what journalist writes them. Radio and television have specialist shows from science through to DIY gardening.
Once you understand the news outlet’s target audience/s and where your story would best fit within their format, then think about creating a winning story angle.
An editor recently complemented one of my story pitches, saying that I clearly understood their section of the paper (lifestyle). She went on to say she was amazed how many people didn’t bother to understand the sort of stories that would fit within the format. As a result, she was interested in running the story and assigned the columnist to it.
Understanding your target market and the media outlets that serve them is a basic first step in making the difference between success and failure.