Single-Subject Stories

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Single- subject stories

What’s your expectation when you put your brand forward for a major feature? When you’re repping a well-known and/or high-profile brand, you may well feel that something straightforward and celebratory is in order. Ditto if your client is creating buzz and is much in demand. 

But, what you can’t control is what direction the publication goes in. It would be duplicitous indeed for an editor to say that they’re going to cover a brand/person/place in glowing terms only for the resulting piece to be a total takedown. In an age of instant social-media responses, that (or indeed the opposite) could go badly wrong.

But there is a lot of wriggle room in what we might describe as “a broad-ranging, broadly positive piece”. What we call a “360” on a subject will take in all sorts of angles and not all of them will be the same message the client wants to promote. 

In the end, it’s probably worth it as long as everyone is clear from the outset that this will not be a glorified press release. For instance, months ago, Fever-Tree got in touch wanting to take a journalist out to India with them to see their ginger harvest, which goes into its mixers. It was loosely tied to the brand’s push into America.

We sent a business journalist and while there was plenty of colour on the trip and on the brand’s history and ambitions, it also reflected (some facts updated as recently as two days before publication) Fever-Tree’s somewhat less than stellar sales figures. 

There was also a main illustration which perhaps wasn’t the ‘pretty GnT in a stylish setting’ shot the brand might have been expecting. Instead, to go with my headline of ‘Can Fever-Tree crush the competition?’, I sent a photographer dozens of mixer cans to squash and shoot as a still life. Much more eye-catching, in my view!

So, in short, be realistic about how a journalist will approach a single-subject story because you can’t control it – but good access and an open mind, when it comes to angles, help a lot.

What Lisa thinks…

“This is a new one on me, being offered first-refusal on a press release – although it’s really a short article written on behalf of a drinks brand. Not sure it’s the way forward (I’d always get a journalist to write a feature), but full marks for trying.”

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