Is Your Story News - or Not?

Posted by Consuelo Reinberg on Feb 4, 2018 2:05:18 PM

newspapers-2-1315373.jpgWhether your story is truly newsworthy and worthy of press coverage isn’t just your call.

Your company has just secured a small round of funding or released an updated version of your tech, and, as far as you’re concerned, it’s breaking news and deserving of big headlines in all the major pubs. So you can’t understand why your PR person is now calling you to say that, regretfully, none of the journalists she’s reached out to has taken a bite. Before you pitch a fit and yell, “What’s wrong with these people?!” know that determining a story’s newsworthiness is not really up to you (though you can be forgiven given your proximity to everything that’s happening in your company). Rather, it’s the journalists you’re pitching to who make that call. And the more compelling and pertinent it is to their audience, the more newsworthy it is.

Tip: Here are the questions these journos ask when they receive your story pitch:

1. Is it timely?

Nobody like stale news, or stale anything. So tie your news to current trends and headlines. Your technology story is timely if it involves security, analytics, mobile apps, virtualization and other tools that today’s businesses use to drive business results. Selling services? You’re sure to get coverage with on-demand products that provide “when and where you want it” convenience. Think your story is too “average” or not exciting enough? If you're at the right place at the right time, that can be overcome. Time your press release, blog, expert interview, etc when journalists are more likely to be interested - a travel app well before summer vacation, state-of-the-art gaming consoles in July and August when journalists are preparing articles for the Christmas holidays, etc.

2. Is it consequential?

Will your story change lives, improve business processes, impact the bottom line? For example, with people living longer and living more active lives, a news story about how a senior was helped by a product that offers seamless health monitoring indoors and outdoors without the need for bothersome bracelets or pendants IS most definitely news. A solution that helps retailers grow their profits by keeping their offers in sync with actual customer purchase patterns IS unquestionably news if they have the statistics to prove it. In a security-conscious world short on cyber skills, a security platform that a bank has used to automate investigation and forensics found critical breaches is great news. You got $4 million in a small fundraising round? Few, if any, will care!

3. Is it rare or extreme?

Is your company offering the world’s smallest cell phone? The biggest solar panel? The fastest computer? Robotics to perform surgery? The only automated video production system that works without a production crew? Journalists and publications are inundated with hundreds of pitches every day, and the rarity or extremeness of your story will make the most bored and world-weary reporter sit up and take notice. If your story contains a superlative element - the first, the last, the most, the least, the biggest, the smallest - putting that fact in your heading will certainly help it get attention.

4. Is it heavy on emotion?

For readers to take notice of your news, you’ve got to connect with them on a basic emotional level. Granted, a new medical invention or educational app or digital farming technology are not stories that will tug at anyone’s heartstrings. But it’s how you present them that will. Headlining these stories as solutions that saved Grandma’s life, put a down-on-his-luck student through college, or support America’s struggling farmers to address the worldwide food shortage will add that extra oomph, emotional resonance, and connection to your readers.

5. Is it interesting to a wide range of people within the scope of what a journalist covers?

Scale adds to a journalist’s perception of the importance of your story. Will your product or service affect a few individuals or a wide range of people? If you’re offering an aging-in-place product suite, for example, you’re talking to a whole spectrum of audiences - the senior market, their families and caregivers, distributors, the medical community, and the service providers, each with their own unique needs. Sprinkling your story with data and figures that highlight its relevance to all these groups serves to emphasize the importance of what you’re saying.

So, before you even put the first word to your press release, blog, social media post or other content, put yourself in the journalist’s shoes and ask yourself: Is this real news? Will my readers gobble it up or keep on scrolling? Even better, will they share the news and spread the word? If your answer is YES, great. If NO, go back to the drawing board.

Check out our press release template to get some help.

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Topics: journalist, news story, news value, timeliness, press coverage, local story