Get attention with your story
But what else can you do to maximise your story and make sure as many people as possible are hearing about your trip?
In this section, we cover:
- How to pitch your story
- How to approach local news sites
- How to get onto a local radio station
- Asking your student union for help
How to position your story
There are two key factors to a good human interest story: it needs to be relevant, and timely.
Relevance is key — without it it’s unlikely many people will be interested in your trip. You can find relevance in your story by comparing and contrasting experiences that you and your peers have been exposed to, to the reality of life in the country you're visiting.
Timing is important — tie your story in with current affairs or events. Be opportunistic and keep an eye out for relevant news to do with the country you’re visiting, your discipline or healthcare that you could tie your story in with.
Unless your story is exceptional, don’t expect to get a response from national papers. Instead, focus your efforts on local publications for a more targeted, relevant audience and more chance of being featured.
Let the publication know how you’re connected to the town or city you're in. Did you grow up there? Perhaps you went to school or have an emotional connection to the area? Including any of the above will immediately make your story more relevant to the publication and their readers.
Nursing student Alex managed to get her local newspaper to cover her story, which soon caught the attention of a local group and in turn, secured some funds:
‘I wrote to my local paper who agreed to cover the story, and that attracted some interest. My local amateur dramatics group took interest in me and hosted two plays over two nights — both nights sold out. These two nights alone raised £2000!’
As with local newspapers, the key is keeping your story relevant to the outlet. Contacting the biggest national music station probably isn’t going to be successful, but your local news station or even a subsidiary of a national broadcaster might be.
Lots of radio stations do local news segments, and many even have a roving reporter who will get out and about to interview people with stories of interest. If you’re planning on contacting your local radio station, it’s a good idea to have some interesting facts and figures lined up to use as a hook when you’re chatting to the reporter.
Don’t forget that your university might also have a radio station that you could approach to spread your story—more on that below.
Your university is a great place to look for publicity, in fact, they are probably looking for stories just like yours to inspire prospective and current students. You might also be a member of a club at your university, or a nationally recognised society, who may be interested in your story, too. If you’re a graduate, your university may have an alumni magazine or society you could talk to.
Use your connections to get in touch with those you think might be interested. Most universities have their own paper, a student magazine, at least one type of blog as well as maybe even a radio or TV station. Any column inches you gain from this also make great additions to your CV for future job applications.