Did you ever send out a news release and wonder why it wasn’t picked up in the newspaper or broadcast media?
Assuming you sent it to the right media list, the problem may have been the content. No matter how newsworthy your news may seem to you, if it doesn’t pass the newsworthiness test of editors and news directors, it will end up in the trash.
Understanding news values will help you select strong ideas for content marketing and do a better job at pitching stories to the media. News judgment is the secret to getting your news placed and will help your story compete with all the other news fighting for people’s attention.
Basically, there are five criteria that determine news value among industry professionals, who learned this in Journalism 101:
Number of people affected. Did your news affect an entire industry or just the employees of your company? Did it affect the population of the entire city or just a few neighbors? The number of lives impacted by your news is a big factor in determining whether your story gets published.
Timeliness. Did your event happen today, or was it last month? There’s nothing less exciting than reading yesterday’s newspaper. Breaking news is timely, and news organizations compete to be first to report breaking news. Subsequent developments also are reported, often with a “second day lead” on the story.
Proximity. Did your news affect people in the city of the newspaper you sent it to? Chances are the Columbus Dispatch is not going to pick up a story that affects residents in Akron, OH. The closer the story hits home, the higher the news value.
Notoriety or prominence. If an average person gets in a car wreck, chances are it won’t get written about in the news, but if the same thing happens to LeBron James, it is considered newsworthy and may make national news. Famous people, or people who are just well-known within a certain community, often make the news.
Human interest. If your news doesn’t fit into one of the above categories, it may have a human-interest component. Sometimes considered “soft news” stories, these stories capture people’s attention in a general way because they are light or funny, unusual or inspiring. When a story makes you laugh or cry, that’s human interest. These stories tap into the humanity of their subjects; it’s more about feelings.
So, the next time you write a press release, consider the news judgment of the editors or news directors who will be reading it; your article will have a much better chance of seeing the light of day.