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How to Help Determine What’s News – And What Isn’t

By BKV in B2B on May 25th, 2010

Is it Newsworthy?

All PR professionals have found themselves in the position of trying to help a client determine if their news really is NEWS. A certain topic may seem important to the client, but this doesn't necessarily mean their customers will be interested. Many news releases are self-serving and overly promotional, loudly proclaiming the superiority of a company or its products without sharing any information that has real value to the reader. You can help determine if a potential news release subject is newsworthy by asking yourself one simple question: "Will readers of the publications I'm sending this to find it interesting or helpful?" The following factors have the power to deem a story newsworthy: Timeliness. If it's NEW, it's news. Your company's first quarter earnings are only important shortly after the first quarter. In the fourth quarter, no one will care. It's truly different. Have an innovative product hitting the shelves next week that no one else offers - or that does something no one else's product can do? That's news. Have a product that's similar to something marketed by your 10 largest competitors? That's not news. New technology that delivers benefits no one else can offer is guaranteed to be a hit with the news media. Proximity. If your company CEO - a resident of Kansas City - receives a significant national award, there's a good chance some of the Kansas City news media outlets will want to cover it. The news media in Dallas probably won't. Prominence. Sometimes, just being a big fish helps make headlines. Companies with recognized national brands have a leg up when receiving news coverage - however, celebrity status doesn't guarantee a story. News releases that are primarily self-serving and say very little other than how great your client is won't get covered, even if that client is a famous Fortune 500 entity. Future impact. Will your client's new product revolutionize the way their customers do business? For example, if an equipment manufacturer designs an excavator that can dig a basement in half the time of other machines - that's news. Consequence. If your company's computers are hit by a virus, it's not necessarily news. Unless, of course, your client is a major telecommunications company and the virus shuts down the network, leaving thousands without cell phone service. Human interest. Some stories have news value by virtue of touching people's emotions. If your client is a construction materials company who donates time and materials to help local families rebuild their homes after a devastating tornado, they might receive some great news coverage, particularly if your news release tells a story - such as featuring the experiences of one special family who benefited from their generosity.