Newsworthiness is the term used to describe whether or not a subject is interesting enough for people to want to know about it. When a PR officer knows what stories will be of interest to target media and their audiences, it is called good ‘news judgement’.
What makes a story newsworthy?
News can be defined as newsworthy information about recent events or happenings, especially as reported by news media. But what makes news newsworthy?
There is a list of five factors, detailed below, which can help decide if a story is newsworthy. When the journalist, news desk and editor, decide whether to run a particular story, they will ask how well the story meets each of these criteria. This becomes second nature and a good journalist can ‘smell’ a strong story. There is also the zeitgeist element…
Competition plays a part. Breaking news or a major incident will delay or ‘spike’ a story. If this happens consider sending a letter to the Editor for example or approach target publications for a feature (for example Bristol Post’s My Bristol or Things to Do Tomorrow, or BBC Radio Bristol’s Saturday Surgery Show and its ‘dinner party’ or ‘show and tell’ spots).
The word news means exactly that, stories which are new. Consumers are used to receiving the latest updates, and old news is discarded. Find an up-to-date news angle if trying to get older news into the media.
The number of people impacted by the story is important. Know your media targets, and what is significant for them (read their articles and blogs, watch them on TV, listen to them on the radio, follow them on Twitter).
Stories, which happen near to us, have more significance. The closer the story to home, the more newsworthy it is. Media will not cover stories out of their patch, unless it is a major story and there is a local link.
Famous people get more coverage just because they are famous. This is why celebrity guests can attract media attention. Ensure that the celebrity or VIP is genuinely interested, and fully briefed. Otherwise it can prove to be an expensive mistake.
5. Human interest:
Human-interest stories are a special case. For example, they don’t date as quickly. Human-interest stories appeal to emotions.
Know your target media, know what stories work best for you and which serve your organisation’s interests. As a rule of thumb, how ‘shareable’ is your story? Would people be talking about it at work, in the cafés and pubs, and on social media?
By Dagmar Smeed