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How to become an ideas machine

How to become an ideas machine

Writing stories for the Media Board comes easily for some experts but for others it can be a real ongoing struggle. Often the hardest part of the process is coming up with a topic or headline that will resonate with the media and its audience.  So how do you create an endless flow of ideas, headlines and stories to write about? Here’s some strategies that will help you get the headlines and stories flowing.

  1. Read and watch the news with a critical eye. Making the shift from being a passive consumer of news and commentary to being an active one takes some training and requires a change of mindset. When you watch or read the news consider how it might impact your industry or your customers. Is there an angle that applies to your business or area of expertise? Carry a small notebook and jot down ideas or thoughts when they come to you or send yourself a text or email for future reference.
  2. Talk to your colleagues, friends, family and clients. Those closest to you can be a rich source of story ideas. If you’re in contact with clients or customers involved in your industry on a regular basis, ask them what challenges or issues they’re having. Look to family and friends for topics and themes from their daily lives – putting yourself in the shoes, will get you into the minds of your potential audience.
  3. Set up a Google alert. If you’re like me, you’ll have your “go-to” sources for news and information. While this makes your daily consumption of media a simple process, it can tend to narrow your exposure to other potential story ideas. I would recommend setting up a Google alert to increase your exposure to different ideas and themes. A Google alert will monitor the internet for content from your areas of interest and expertise. Simply plug in your key words and you’ll get a daily email with a selection of stories from a very broad range of sources – often from sites you’d never normally visit. Try it here.
  4. Set aside time to write. I like this quote from author Steven Pressfield on writing –
    “It’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write.” Setting aside the time to write, by including it in your weekly or fortnightly calendar, will give you a much greater chance of success. If you’re relegating the writing process to something you squeeze in between meetings or other activities, you’ll struggle to get pieces completed on a regular basis.
  5. Use your daily activities outside work as inspiration. Your life outside of work is another area you can mine for story ideas. The conversations you have with your barista or the parents at school drop-off can sometimes be the spark you need to get a story underway. Ask questions, be curious and think laterally. There are stories and headlines everywhere!

Finally, if you’re still struggling, reach out to the Media Stable team – we love stories and love creating them.

By John Solvander, Director of Media Engagement, Media Stable.

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