You have some company news and you’re keen to share it, but how do you know if it’s worth sharing beyond your owned media channels? News that may make a good blog post or interesting tweet isn’t necessarily going to interest a wider audience.
A journalist’s job is to create content that is relevant to their audience. Understanding what makes a story newsworthy to a journalist and their media outlet can help you create compelling stories that gain more quality coverage, so you get the best possible return from your PR activity.
Understanding news values
News values are a general guideline used by journalists to determine if a story will be of interest to their audience and therefore warrants coverage. Understanding what news values are and how they are applied can help you to better understand when a story has potential.
- Timeliness – our constant connection to news via social media means that timeliness is more important than ever. Journalists need stories that are new or even still unfolding. That industry award you won six months ago is old news, but the apprenticeships you’ve just created are worth shouting about.
- Proximity – the closer the news occurs to the audience of the media outlet the more relevant it becomes. This is particularly important for regional media – make sure you’re sending them news for their patch.
- Impact – the greater the number of people affected by the story, the greater the coverage, e.g. major job losses, major job creation or closure of services, such as how a road closure may affect the local community and local businesses.
- Prominence – the more well-known the figures involved are, the bigger the news story. In the national press this applies to royal figures and celebrities, but for industry titles it will include the directors and thought leaders from the sector’s leading firms, while regional media favours councillors, community champions and business owners.
- Oddity – news that is unusual or rare is always newsworthy, think animals in strange places or extreme weather.
- Relevance – is your story related to a topic that is getting a lot of coverage in the media right now? Environmental topics, such as the plastic-free movement and fast fashion, are currently getting a lot of column inches.
- Conflict – a significant disagreement can be newsworthy, such as community groups opposing council plans or directors disagreeing with new legislation for their industry. An issue that could be seen to endanger people, waste money or lead to skill shortages could meet the criteria of conflict.
News doesn’t have to tick all the above to have value, but the more it can tick the more value it has. However, each media organisation may place greater importance on one value over another, depending on their audience. For example, regional press will value proximity over any other news value, while trade media will value relevance and prominence.
When is a story newsworthy?
To better understand whether your story is newsworthy outside of your company, compare it to the list of news values. Does it tick any in the list? How does your story fit into wider topics in the news?
Regularly reading news stories from the media outlets you want coverage in will give you a greater understanding of what they publish. You should also research the types of stories covered by the journalist you are looking to target with your pitch.
If you’re struggling to see how your story meets any of the above news values, then it’s probably not newsworthy. You can always run the idea by a journalist for their feedback on whether it’s worth pursuing.
Company anniversaries, staff anniversaries, website relaunches and rebrands are the ones we get asked about most often. Generally, they’re not of interest to the media, unless you’re a household name or the company anniversary is significant. Every company has them and the media can’t cover each one.
How to make a story more newsworthy
The story you’ve got in mind might not be of interest to a journalist yet, but there are ways you can make it more newsworthy. Inflating the story by combining it with additional information can help to meet one or more of the news values above.
Company aims for the future like job creation, client wins, product development or turnover targets can add real weight to give an anniversary or relaunch story real impact, as can rags to riches stories or significant new hires. What was your turnover in the first year of business, compared to what it is now?
Alternatively, look for an oddity. Does your company founder have an interesting background or did they switch industries to launch the firm? Has your market research thrown up some unusual findings?
Gaining approval from all stakeholders can often delay timely news, so remove references to time or dates where possible to stop your story becoming old news too quickly.
Controversial statements can help to create conflict, but don’t go over the top and be careful not to damage any relationships. Are there any new industry regulations or guidelines that you disagree with or that may affect your business? If there’s an issue you think is hindering business growth, recruitment or product development or a safety concern that hasn’t been properly addressed then this could be a newsworthy angle for your story.
Always follow the news
Following the news on a local and national level, as well as in your industry, will help you to react to hot topics. Tapping into current trends and talking points will enable you to make your story relevant to journalists.
The anti-plastic movement is currently a big talking point, as are Brexit, sugar consumption and mindfulness. Do any current news topics affect your industry? Pegging your story to major talking points can help to increase its relevance and timeliness.
Regional press often looks at how national news topics are impacting their local area, maybe your company will be negatively impacted or maybe you have a solution to a problem.
Why does it matter?
Feeding journalists quality news stories that they can use and that are relevant to the topics they cover helps to establish good relationships. Filling their inbox with stories that aren’t newsworthy will make it harder to gain coverage when you do have some real news to share. Journalists receive hundreds of stories every day, so you need to demonstrate that yours are worth reading.
Understanding news values will also ensure that you are maximising the efforts of your PR activity.
For advice on planning your PR strategy contact the Anicca Digital team today or check out other blog posts on PR and Influencer Marketing for advice on building a media list and writing a press release.