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What makes a newsworthy story? Tips to get your business's content featured

Episode Summary

If you've ever wondered what makes a story newsworthy, then you’re in the right place. This episode is all about letting you in on some media and public relations secrets so you can start looking at your business’s content through different eyes and discover good stories to pitch to the media, online publications, bloggers, or podcast and video hosts. In this week's podcast episode, I reveal the 8 news values that make a story newsworthy, so you can start pitching your PR story with more success. Listen in to learn more.

Episode Notes

Hi everyone, thank you for joining me again. 

In today’s episode, 'What makes a story newsworthy? Tips for PR and media success', I reveal the 8 news values that make a story newsworthy, so you can start pitching your PR story with more success.

Many people make the mistake of thinking that if something’s important to their business or marketing audience, then the media, online publications, bloggers, or podcast and video hosts should care.

But unfortunately, that’s not the case. Your story has to have a far greater impact than your immediate audience.

What makes a story newsworthy? Tips for PR and media success:

01:59 What is a newsworthy story?

03:14 1. New 

03:47 2. Impact and Scale

04:10 3. Conflict

04:35 4. Prominence 

05:00 5. Proximity

05:20 6. Change & Trends

06:00 7. Human interest

06:36 8. The Unusual

06:59 To recap

Remember to listen to the full episode for all the details.

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Episode Transcription

What makes a newsworthy story? Tips to get your business content featured

If you’ve ever wondered what makes a story newsworthy, then you’re in the right place. 

This episode is all about letting you in on some media and public relations secrets so you can start looking at your business’s content through different eyes and discover good stories to pitch to the media, online publications, bloggers, or podcast and video hosts.

While I did call them secrets, it's more accurate to describe them as news values.

Essentially, it’s how journalists intuitively know what is and isn’t a news story. 

So, if you’re ready to learn what a good or great news story is, keep listening.

Hi, I’m Simone Cunningham, a content marketing and public relations expert with more than 20 years of industry experience. 

Every week I share actionable tips in content, marketing, video, interviewing and public relations so you can attract more customers, get more sales and position your business as an authority.

To learn more, visit me at simonecunningham.com

If you want to chat with me about my business marketing services or online training courses you can book a call with me. The link is in the show notes.

I can’t exactly remember when during my journalism career that knowing a story’s newsworthiness became second nature. 

It was probably when I was fresh out of university, reporting for Channel Nine, that it kind of absorbed through my skin and never left. 

It’s almost like you develop an instinct for what’s newsworthy. You just know.

However, for those new to the idea of “newsworthiness”, there is a set of 8 news values that can be used to filter what stories are newsworthy.

But first, let’s discuss what I mean when I say “newsworthy story”. 

A newsworthy story or a good PR story is something that’s interesting or important to the audience of the media outlet, online publication, blogger, or podcast and video host.

It’s important to remember that this story is not for your audience, like the rest of your marketing.

Your PR story needs to be interesting or important to a wider audience. 

This is where many people go wrong. They think that if something’s important to their business or marketing audience, then the media, online publications, bloggers, or podcast and video hosts should care.

But unfortunately, that’s not the case. Your story has to have a far greater impact than your immediate audience. 

I know that sounds harsh, but it’s the reality of PR. It’s very different from marketing. 

If you want to learn more about this listen to my first podcast episode, 3 reasons why your media pitch gets ignored or deleted

So now let's get into the 8 news values that determine what stories are newsworthy.

Number 1. New 

Anything new, groundbreaking or happening right now (otherwise called “breaking news”) is considered newsworthy.

Ask yourself what is new about your story. For example, a new service, new statistics, new acquisition, and new technology. 

You can also think of it in terms of “firsts”, such as this concept, product or event is an “Australian-first” or “world-first”.

Number 2. Impact and Scale

Ask yourself how many people will this story affect? How big is the issue? 

Use examples and statistics that emphasise the fact that your story will be of interest to a wide range of people. The more people affected, the bigger the story. 

This is why political and federal budget stories feature prominently at the top of news bulletins.

Number 3. Conflict

Controversy is newsworthy. The media and audiences love a fight or a scandal where people or businesses are pitted against each other.

If you saw the headlines about Will Smith’s slapping of Chris Rock at the Oscar’s last week, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. 

Had the event played out differently as a verbal argument, it would not have been considered such a newsworthy occurrence.

Number 4. Prominence 

The larger your profile or the larger your business, the more newsworthy you are. If you’re well-known, then even small events can be newsworthy.

Consider what makes you (or your business) worth quoting in stories? What qualifies you to be the spokesperson in this story?

Also, think about if you can associate a high-profile person or event with your story, as this will make it more newsworthy.

Number 5. Proximity

You need to think about where the audience you’re targeting is located and if your story matters to them. 

News editors are more likely to cover your story if it’s where their viewers or readers live (as long as it ticks off some of the other news values as well).

Number 6. Change & Trends

Journalists are always interested in changes and initiatives that shape the future or affect how we live. 

If you can include statistics or examples that illustrate new trends, there’s a chance you have a newsworthy story.

Also, think about recent trends you’re reading about and how you can provide commentary on what’s making headlines or happening at a certain time of the year. This is also known as what’s “trending”. 

At any given time, there are new trending topics that you can piggyback off of to get yourself featured alongside trending news stories. This is also referred to as “newsjacking”.

Number 7. Human interest

Think about how your story affects people, either in a good or bad way. 

Perhaps you can put a human face to a bigger story to personalise it. Is there someone who has been assisted by your business and is willing to tell their story? 

Stories about overcoming adversity and emotive interviews are popular as these types of stories tug on the heartstrings. 

Human interest stories are often not time-sensitive, which is good because they can be published or aired at a time when there is less news available, making your story the perfect “filler” piece.

And finally Number 8. The Unusual

A different or quirky story angle can help make your story newsworthy.

Ask yourself if there is anything unexpected about this story?

The bizarre, strange, and unusual will often make headlines, so if you have this covered, you’re in luck because there’s a good chance you will generate some media buzz.

So to recap, the 8 news values of a newsworthy story are:

1. New 

2. Impact and Scale

3. Conflict

4. Prominence 

5. Proximity

6. Change & Trends

7. Human interest

8. The Unusual

If your story doesn’t have at least one of these news values, I’m sorry to say odds are that it’s not newsworthy and it won’t get picked up by journalists, bloggers, or hosts. 

However, if your story has one or more of these newsworthy angles, strengthen your PR story pitch by working in statistics and examples that will help them imagine your story as being of value to their audience.

I hope you got value out of today’s episode.

Remember, if you need help with finding newsworthy stories within your business, or you want to develop PR story pitches, talk to me about joining my Publicity Boss online 1:2:1 live training courses.

I have 3, 6, and 12-week courses available where you’ll learn how to get yourself featured in the media, online publications, or in podcasts and videos, following my step-by-step strategy and structured sessions. We develop your PR strategy, PR hit list, story pitches, media releases, monthly PR plans and more!

Book a chat with me if you want to learn more. The link is in the show notes.

Also, remember you can join my Meetup Group or Facebook Community, Media and Content Strategies for Driven Business Owners for more tips on how to generate free publicity for your business. I’d love to see you in there.

To learn more about my business services and training courses visit my website: simonecunningham.com.