By: Gina Mason
Merriam-Webster defines the term newsworthy as “interesting or important enough to report as news.”
In Public Relations, we are constantly asked to write press releases or send pitches for various clients, events or products, but we always have to consider “is this topic newsworthy?” Although most of those people, events and products are important, they are not necessarily worthy of being considered news which is why we tailor our message to targeted media outlets and reporters.
Journalists receive hundreds if not thousands of pitches and press releases every day, all of which claim to be on newsworthy topics. One of the most important things we can do as PR practitioners is “think like a reporter” and make sure that our pitches and releases are relevant to the reporter we are pitching. In order to get a story published or spark a writer’s interest, you must understand the journalistic method of determining what is “news” and sometimes you must come up with an angle to get their attention.
Here are a few of the basic qualities (in no particular order) that a story has to have in order for it to be considered newsworthy:
If it is new then it may be considered news. However, just because a product or event is new and is happening now does not mean that it is news. The question of “why now?” and “why is it important?” should also be considered and included in pitches and press releases.
Is this geographically relevant to the reporter’s audience? An event happening in Kansas City may not be relevant to readers in NYC and therefore, may not be newsworthy for publications like The New York Post or Daily News.
Is a celebrity or public figure involved? If there is a celebrity or public figure angle there is a good chance that your story will be considered news. For example, if Brad Pitt goes skydiving for a charity or special cause it will absolutely be considered newsworthy in our celebrity-driven society. However, it is important to remember that not everyone is a “celebrity.”
Is this story going to change the lives of a large group of people? If so, why does it matter and why should people care?
Conflict or Scandal:
Everyone is guilty of loving to hear about some type of conflict or scandal (why do you think reality TV shows do so well?). People love drama! Conflict and scandals are two of the key selling points for journalists, but as PR practitioners we try to stay far away from conflict as possible.
Many feature stories have a human interest factor which means that it has a storyline or element that evokes a sense of interest or that people can identify with. Humans by nature are curious and love to learn more about others. If the reporter’s audience can relate to the story, it can have more of an impact and may be considered newsworthy.
These are just a few qualities that should be considered when determining if something is “newsworthy.” Obviously, the topic of newsworthiness is subjective and varies based on the opinion of the reporter and the topic of their outlet.
As always, I welcome any and all comments and if you like what you read, be social and share.