Journalists and PR professionals are essential to each other and have the same goal—get news into the hand of the consumer. As PR professionals, we are often put in the difficult position of balancing our clients’ needs with journalistic integrity. While we’re not journalists, we do have to think like them if we want to get our clients in the news. This requires that we maintain “newsworthy” elements in our PR practices.
What makes something newsworthy?
There are specific elements journalists use to evaluate potential stories. Below are the seven major newsworthy elements and questions to consider when evaluating whether or not your pitch, press release or media outreach is “newsworthy”:
- Impact – Will this particular news impact the readers in some way, shape or form? Readers won’t care about news that has nothing to do with them.
- Timeliness –Is this new or recent information? The more recent or immediate, the better.
- Proximity—Does this news take place or happen somewhere close to the target audience?
- Human Interest—Will this information provoke emotion or speak to the human condition?
- Conflict—Is there a conflicting idea, competition, unpopular opinion or fight that makes this news interesting?
- The Bizarre—Does this news have any shock value or include something very odd or out of the ordinary?
- Celebrity—Is this news about someone important, in political power or famous?
Evaluating PR Strategy from a Newsworthy Perspective
Do your pitches, press releases and media relations strategies follow the seven elements of newsworthiness above? Here’s a few ways we make sure you keep these points top-of-mind with our clients:
Know your target audience. This is a complaint we see from reporters again and again. PR professionals pitching the wrong reporter or beat and sometimes even the wrong publication altogether. If you’re targeting the right audience, you should be hitting on impact and sometimes timeliness, two essential newsworthy elements.
Make it relevant and immediate. For crisis situations, this can mean getting ahead of the news cycle to control the narrative. News breaks instantly in the digital age. It’s important to have messaging ready for these extreme cases. For non-immediate news, make sure what you’re pitching is relevant to what’s being covered in the news right now.
Write using the inverted pyramid strategy. When writing pitches, releases, advisories and bylines make we always advise to start with the most important information first. Always start with the lede, the most important facts and then get into background at the very end. Journalists want to know the important stuff first.
Don’t be afraid to push back. As PR pros, were hired for our expertise and counsel for our clients. If something isn’t newsworthy, that sometimes means we have to redirect a client or colleague with justification. Some things just aren’t worthy of news coverage.
Create your own news. In the absence of something really newsworthy happening or launching at your business, you sometimes need to get creative. You can manufacture news by newsjacking and inserting yourself into relevant conversations happening in the media. You can also conduct your own research to identify trends and issues in the industry that may be relevant and create thought leadership content to share these trends and further connect you to your audience.
Have a question or want to learn more? Leave a comment or contact us.