When the Shiny Objects Disappear, Where Do You Get Story Ideas?

Old-fashioned toy ambulanceAs PR pros, it can be difficult to resist becoming an ambulance chaser. Sometimes, those big shiny openings to pitch a client are nearly impossible to resist. But what about the times when there isn’t an obvious point of entry? When you’re on your own to craft the story from inception to execution?

A recent survey by Middleberg/Ross revealed that 98% of journalists go online daily to generate story ideas and access information. Clearly, the web is working for them, and maybe for some of us as well. Over the past year, we’ve become increasingly familiar with hearing journalists site social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter as sources for story ideas. My question is, where are the PR people getting their story ideas?

Yes, some clients come equipped with a bevy of compelling story angles and news hooks. Others have newsworthy stories that can be easily uncovered. Yet, I’m convinced that everyone experiences a drought from time to time. Those periods when the ready-to-go angles have been exhausted and there aren’t any shiny objects to chase with pitches offering expert commentary.

For some, ideas come from tracking the competition, scouring social media for obscure statistics that can be packed into an eye-opening pitch or hours spent in a creative room playing darts. . .errrmm. . .brainstorming and releasing creative energy, that is.

For others, it comes from seeking new perspectives. What I affectionately consider ‘client roulette’ — assembling a group of your colleagues, having everyone put one client name in the hat, and then drawing names. While you not only gain some fresh perspective, you also buy a few minutes to take a deep breath and reduce frustration.

All kidding aside, how do you generate story ideas to wow your clients and break through the clutter? With the plethora of information bombarding social media consumers alone, it is becoming easier each day to get lost in the shuffle of the day-to-day or simply the mere barrage of information coming at each of us from dawn to dusk.

With the need for unique, high quality, compelling stories at, what I consider to be, an all-time high, I’m interested in hearing how fellow PR pros stimulate their creative juices and pull rabbits out of hats when it comes to new and compelling stories to pitch media.

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