October 13, 2014
Recently, someone asked me, “How would you define the word 'newsworthy?'” Great question; allow me to elucidate.
What makes a story newsworthy? Pay close attention to these 10 elements of newsworthiness to see which apply to your particular announcement. These elements are also called "news values" because they give a story news value. Good news stories have more than one of these elements to help increase earned media coverage.
Location, location, location: If an event is happening nearby, it will impact the audience more than if it were happening somewhere else that doesn't affect them as much, such as in another state or country. For example, if the local high school football team is going to the state championship, or if a music star is coming to town to perform, residents will want to know about it.
A well-known person, place, or event has a stronger news angle than something the audience isn’t familiar with. A guest speaker visiting your local elementary school to take over story time doesn't resonate with many people... unless that speaker is Oprah.
Current news has more impact than something that happened yesterday or last week. The news media loses interest quickly, and past events become stale when there's always fresh news somewhere. No one cares that a mild tropical storm passed last month, but a hurricane on the horizon… that’s a different story.
If something is unusual, shocking, or bizarre, the strangeness alone could make it newsworthy. A Florida man threw a gator through the Wendy’s drive-thru window? You don’t hear that often.
If the impact of an event may directly affect readers, they'll want to know about it. A run-of-the-mill burglary at the Watergate Hotel was white noise on the airwaves until it became clear what the identities of the key players meant for the nation.
Audiences are always interested in disagreements, arguments, and rivalries. If an event has a conflict attached to it, many consumers will be interested based on that alone. Let's not forget that it's human nature to choose sides and stand up for that choice. Stories that involve conflict include those about religion, sports, business, trials, wars, human rights violations, politics, and even struggles against nature, animals, and outer space.
- Human interest
If a situation draws any sort of emotional reaction, it might contain the news element of a human-interest story. These stories can be "soft" kid-at-the-petting-zoo snapshots, inspiring comeback accounts, or infuriating reports of incompetence on the part of a public figure.
Reporters and audiences might be interested in the first, the best, the longest, the smallest, the highest – if you can legitimately claim one. Be careful. Do not overly focus on this, create hyperbole, or exaggerate claims. Dishonesty here will come back to bite you.
Reporters want a scoop on the scandal – everyone wants to hear all the details whenever there is moral or legal misconduct. The philandering congressman who sends inappropriate pictures under an absurd virtual handle is sure to draw media attention.
Whether it's a peaceful protest that encompasses five city blocks or a 52-car pileup on the pike, the more people involved in the event, the more newsworthy it is. Similarly, the number of people affected by the event will affect its newsworthiness, whether it's an adjustment of minimum wage or an alleged outbreak of Ebola.
And remember: "Just the facts, ma’am."
Clients love Jason’s passion, candor, and commitment as well as the team he has formed at Axia Public Relations. He’s advised some of America’s most admired brands, including American Airlines, Dave & Buster’s, Hilton, HP, Pizza Hut, and Verizon. He is an Emmy Award-winning, accredited public relations practitioner, speaker, author, and entrepreneur with a certification in inbound marketing. He founded the PR firm in July 2002. Learn more about Jason.
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Topics: public relations