You’ve got a fantastic story to share with the world’s media, you take your time researching the content, getting quotes cleared from your CEO and working and re-working the order of the text. You even think about the keyword optimisation of your release. Then you hit send…and wait, and wait and wait
As the tumbleweeds start blowing down main street, you ask yourself “why isn’t anyone interested in my story? Why haven’t I heard back and maybe even, why isn’t this front page news?”
The issue of news worthiness comes up time and time again when we are advising our clients on media and PR campaigns. Finding a newsworthy story isn’t as easy as you might have thought and is definitely a skill learnt over time. Here are some of the things that I have learnt over the last ten years working
with the media.
Walk in their shoes: Put yourself in the shoes of the journalist, and then in the shoes of his/her editor – will the editor of Australia’s major national newspaper think the fact that the Director of your photography company won an award in the local business awards in your suburb is worthy of coverage? No. But the editor of the local newspaper in your area might think enough of it to dedicate half a
page. So put yourself in the journo’s shoes, who is wearing the editors shoes who is wearing the readers shoes. What will get read (or listened to or
watched) will make good news.
Read the Nutritional panel first: So targeting the right people is definitely important, but the actual content is even more so. The ingredients in your story will directly affect its newsworthiness.
In an ever-changing media environment, what media consider to be newsworthy is not always cut and dried, and is often impacted by global events, political and environmental changes and other topical issues.
Here’s a handy checklist of 15 things to consider that will make your story more appealing or newsworthy to the media:
1. Celebrity – does your story involve a well known identity?
And by well known, truly well known. Think wide appeal – your CEO may
think he’s a legend in his own lunchbox but we’re talking true celebrity
- Amazing images – a picture tells a thousand words. A story may
sometimes only become news because of the images available. New media sites will also have stories
that are just photo galleries so you have an extra angle here.
- Charity – is there a charity angle? Is the project you’re
promoting funding a charity? Demonstrating how the charity will benefit
the local community with personal stories is often a story in itself.
- Lists and best ofs – this is where you need to be on the front foot –
if you hear of a writer researching a feature on the best places to dine
in your city, make sure you put your hand up with your restaurant’s
story. Do you really think they
have time to dine at and rank each one?
A true headline we may never see “Here are the best 15 restaurants
that I had time to get images and reviews off google for in Sydney”
first – is your product or service new? Even if just in its own field?
Make sure you can back this up! Anything
that’s new and innovative scores marks.
- Environmental angle – anything that’s proven to help the environment or
has a sustainable/eco/carbon footprint angle is often popular and always
- Technology/social media – a fast paced global tech environment makes these
stories popular, but make sure what you have is new or unique. The fact
that the local real estate agent finally has her own Twitter feed or Facebook
page is unlikely to make news.
- Trends – does your story relate somehow to a current
trend? Eg. Is your hotel offering new services specifically targeting ‘flashpackers’?
- Statistics – can you back your story up with credible reports,
surveys or statistics? Or is your story actually the release of some new
survey results undertaken by your business? Solid proof makes for a good story
angle. Over 50% of people surveyed
think so anyway.
- Australian angle – home grown products, innovations, personalities,
projects are often given preference.
Everyone loves an ‘aussie battler’ or an ‘aussie sticking it to the
big guys’ story.
- Seasonal / Special dates – those dates that stick out on your calendar –
Valentines, Christmas, Easter etc. Does your story involve or relate to
those special days?
- Financial – is the story something that’s likely to impact
the hip pocket? Have you got a fantastic new travel package or product on
offer for budget conscious families?
Do kids go free?
- Topical – is there a topic in the news that just won’t go
away? How can you leverage that popularity for your own story and provide
your own angle, comment or qualified opinion on it.
- Sex/gender – sex sells. Say no more. The old Battle of the sexes – there will
always be a story in that.
- Award wins – so yes, sometimes that photography business
winning the local business award is actually newsworthy. These kinds of
stories are often popular with local or trade-specific media you need to
get past the award and into the personal local success story of the person
who started the business and is changing their life / the world around
Sometimes your story may involve several of these aspects which will make your chances of appeal and
coverage even greater.
Indeed, sometimes you may need to make the call and tell your boss that the story he/she is trying to
tell is not really newsworthy at all, and that your time will be better spent pursuing other stories.
But just imagine how your phone will ring hot if you have a story about an Australian sporting celebrity arriving via helicopter, launching a brand new social media platform with the profits going to the state’s children’s hospital just before christmas!