Designing collaborative stories to boost media coverage

The collaborative story

This is a practice by which we find a common thread between two or more of our clients, and then pitch a joint briefing to a journalist to offer a rounded view on a topic. Designing collaborative stories can be a great way of rejuvenating thought leadership campaigns and is also a useful tool for grabbing the attention of a national journalist.

The Babel team recently secured a great piece of coverage in the sports section of the Mail Online discussing the future of stadium technology. This came about because we set up a ‘roundtable’ briefing between three of our clients and the Mail Online’s Max Winters.

The aim

Gathering spokespeople from multiple companies reduces the workload for the journalist. Think of it from the perspective of the media, ordinarily, they would have to arrange several interviews with different companies which would likely take place over a few days or weeks. Offering a roundtable is far more efficient and introduces the possibility of a live debate, which helps a journalist to visualise what the different arguments on the topic might be.

Preparation is key

This type of opportunity involves intensive pre-briefing as it is vital that all the spokespeople involved know how their company’s messaging would fit into the conversation. It is also essential that each client understands that they should keep their comments concise. In the case of the Mail opportunity, it was also crucial that the spokespeople did not use overly technical language. If we had had three spokespeople using technology jargon and name-dropping product titles, we would have scuppered any chance of the story featuring on the sports pages of the Mail.

Each of the spokespeople should be briefed individually before hosting a conference call, so that they can be introduced to each other. This will also be an opportunity to give clear guidance on how the roundtable should be structured.

An agenda should be prepared ahead of the call, especially if the journalist is not overly familiar with the subject matter. For example, with the Mail roundtable, we were briefing a sports journalist on technology subject matter.

Making it the full PR package

Following the roundtable, liaise continuously with the journalist to ensure that they have everything they need. To try and add as much value to the story as possible, especially with national titles, it is vital that engaging, relevant imagery is provided. This imagery could be hi-res photos or easily hostable videos. To really go the extra mile for the Mail opportunity, we worked closely with a graphic designer to produce an infographic (above) to visualise how each of our client’s products would work in a stadium set up. For technical stories, this can help the person on the street understand a more specialised subject matter.

Such opportunities can take time to develop, possibly several months, with all the moving parts. However, a dedicated piece of national coverage which exposes our clients to a vast audience makes that time investment worth it. At last count, this story has been shared 203 times with 42 comments on the Mail site.

Securing national media opportunities often involves thinking creatively about how you can offer a journalist a story that is too good to ignore, and the Mail piece was just that! You can view the coverage here and check out the graphic we produced above.

Please get in touch at to find out how we can help your business gain national media attention.

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