In the current state of society, where everything seems to be moving at lightning speed due to global interconnectedness, and the 24-hour news cycle, there's no shortage of news stories. Information is readily available at our fingertips and competing for your attention.
So as a small business owner or PR professional, getting your brand in front of the right audience can feel overwhelming. But don't fret. Here's the secret sauce - share a story that stands out and captures the attention of journalists and their audiences.
But how do you determine if your story is newsworthy? That's exactly what we'll explore in this blog post if you read on. We'll discuss the critical factors that journalists look for in news stories and why these factors really matter.
Best yet, by the end of the post, you'll have a better understanding of how to craft a compelling pitch that gets cut through, heightening your chances of getting that hard-fought for media coverage.
Newsworthy refers to the quality of a story that makes it worthy of being shared in the news. Newsworthy stories have the potential to capture the public's attention and generate interest from journalists and news outlets. A newsworthy story needs to be relevant to the audience and should be shared with a particular intention in mind.
Media coverage reaches a wider audience than traditional marketing. This means it can help boost your brand's visibility, credibility, and authority in your industry, increasing consumer trust and confidence in your business. What's more, media coverage can help build brand awareness, generate leads, and drive sales.
In simple terms, newsworthy stories matter because they can help you achieve your business goals and grow your brand.
Your story ought to cut through the noise and capture the attention of journalists. Your story should at least have one of these 11 qualities:
News outlets are always looking for the latest information, so a story that happened yesterday or today is generally more newsworthy than one that happened months ago. That's why it's called news. It has to be new information.
"...a story that happened yesterday or today is generally more newsworthy than one that happened months ago."
However, there are exceptions to this rule, such as anniversaries or milestones, that can make an old story newsworthy again. Also, if a story has an ongoing interest, it's considered to have an element of timelessness. For example, climate change has been happening for decades, but it's still relevant to readers.
Proximity here refers to the geographic location of a story. A local story is more newsworthy than one that happens in another state or country. For example, a car accident that occurs at a busy intersection in your city is more newsworthy than a similar accident that happens across the country. This is because local news outlets are more likely to cover stories that impact their audience directly.
"This is because local news outlets are more likely to cover stories that impact their audience directly."
So aim to give your story a local angle to increase your chances of being covered.
People are naturally drawn to stories that are strange, unusual, or unexpected. For example, a dog that can surf or a man who ate 50 hot dogs in one sitting are bizarre stories that can capture the public's attention.
"People are naturally drawn to stories that are strange, unusual, or unexpected."
People always want to quench their curiosity whenever something is too weird to be true. However, be careful not to pitch a story that's too weird or unbelievable, as it may harm your credibility.
Human interest stories don't follow the same rules as other newsworthy stories. Human stories can be covered from anywhere in the world, and it doesn't have to have impacted many people. These stories focus on people and their emotions, experiences, and struggles.
"These stories focus on people and their emotions, experiences, and struggles."
A human interest story can be heartwarming, inspiring, or tragic, and it can create an emotional connection with the audience. These stories are often tied to a larger issue or trend, such as poverty, health, lifestyle, or social justice.
A story that affects a large number of people or has significant consequences is more newsworthy than one that affects a few individuals or has less real impact. For example, a new government policy that affects millions of people is more newsworthy than a small business that's expanding its operations. This is because journalists want to cover stories that matter to their audience and have a broader impact.
"A story that affects a large number of people or has significant consequences is more newsworthy than one that affects a few individuals or has less real impact."
So if you can pitch your story showing how your products or services have a significant impact on the audience, your business is more likely to be covered.
There's a saying that says, "If there's drama, it will make the front page ."And it's true. People are naturally attracted to conflict. People want to see the drama, whether it's a political battle, a legal dispute, or a personal feud.
Think of it, how many conflict stories are covered in a day? Too many. Most of the time, if there's no conflict, there's nothing much to report. But if there's conflict, there are so many angles to present the news. And that's something the public love.
"People want to see the drama, whether it's a political battle, a legal dispute, or a personal feud."
However, be careful when pitching a conflict story not to create conflict where there isn't any, as it can harm your reputation and credibility.
Whether it's a Hollywood A-lister, a famous athlete, or a social media influencer, celebrities have genuine followers that are interested in their lives and activities. We all tend to care when we see or hear a celebrity did this or said this because we feel like we know them to a greater extent.
"...celebrities have genuine followers that are interested in their lives and activities."
When sharing a story featuring a celeb, be careful not to pitch a story that's too sensationalized, exaggerated, scandalous, controversial, or gossipy, as it may not be suitable for all media outlets and may also not get you the traction you need for your brand.
Typically, a story that's unique captures the public's attention and generates interest. For example, a new product or service that's never been seen before or a groundbreaking scientific discovery can be a novelty story.
"...a story that's unique captures the public's attention and generates interest."
The idea is any extraordinary, unusual, or unconventional story- which is different from what's normal is novel and, thus, newsworthy. If you have a quirky story, the novelty angle is the best angle to present your story.
A story that involves well-known individuals or organisations is more newsworthy than one that involves unknown or obscure entities. For example, a story about a famous musician's new album is more newsworthy than a story about an unknown local band's new release. A story about an average person visiting a local shop is not newsworthy, but a story of the president visiting a local shop is newsworthy.
"A story that involves well-known individuals or organisations is more newsworthy..."
Note that prominence doesn't necessarily mean famous. For example, your city mayor may not be famous, but he's a prominent figure that the local news may be interested in. Prominence plus proximity is newsworthy!
Tragic events, such as natural disasters, accidents, or crimes, are newsworthy. Property destruction and loss of human life are also newsworthy. These are stories that capture the public's attention and generate interest.
These events don't necessarily have to have happened in your business. It could be your neighborhood or just the city, but they had an impact on your business. You could pitch such a story from a business perspective and address the effects of the tragedy.
"Tragic events, such as natural disasters, accidents, or crimes, are newsworthy."
However, be careful not to sensationalise or exploit a tragedy, as it can harm your reputation and credibility.
A story that's important or meaningful to a large number of people is more newsworthy than one that's trivial or insignificant. For example, a story about a breakthrough in cancer research is more newsworthy than a story about a new flavor of ice cream. Journalists want to cover stories that have a broader impact and significance. And the bigger the significance, the bigger the story.
"A story that's important or meaningful to a large number of people is more newsworthy..."
Note that if your story is not "that" groundbreaking, the best way to pitch it with a significant angle is by reaching out to a local news outlet that serves your target audience. This will likely achieve better results than trying to pitch to a national or international news outlet.
Understanding the critical factors that make a story newsworthy can help you craft a compelling pitch that stands out to reporters and increases your chances of getting media coverage. Remember to focus on the elements that matter to your target audience and avoid sensationalising or exploiting a story for your own gain.
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