As a communicator, your ultimate aim in PR is to capture the attention of both the media and their audience. But what is the secret sauce that makes a story newsworthy? Our blog explains all, let’s dive straight in
How do journalists decide what is newsworthy?
Ultimately, journalists know what will land with their audience and what will flop, so understanding who you’re trying to target is vital. However, a study was carried out in 2001 that aimed to shed some light on contemporary news values. While this research is slightly old, it’s still relevant and has identified ten news values that still determine the fate of a story. Keep reading to discover what these are.
How BIG is this story? Is it of national or global significance? Stories with wide-ranging impact are more likely to be chosen by the media. Whether it’s a significant event happening locally or a global phenomenon, the scale matters.
How relevant is your story to the readers, viewers, and listeners? A story that resonates with the target audience is more likely to gain attention. It should touch upon their interests, concerns, or experiences to capture their curiosity. As we’ve mentioned previously, don’t skip your audience research, it’ll pay off in the long run!
- Power Elite
If your story involves individuals or organisations with power and influence, such as royalty or politicians then it’s more likely to gain traction. Naturally, people are more interested in those who hold power or who challenge the status quo.
There’s no doubt about it, celebrities have a way of captivating the public’s attention. Whether your story contains a popular actor, musician or sports star, if your story is about celebrities then you’ll be onto a winner.
In today’s current climate, people love a story that will bring a smile to their faces and break the monotony of everyday life. Therefore, a touch of humour, a clever headline or some pretty pictures could be the difference between your story getting picked up or not.
- Bad news
Unfortunately, stories that involve conflict, fault or blame often grab attention. Usually, bad news topics often directly affect the reader and tend to attract attention due to their dramatic nature.
- Good news
Does the story have a hero or present a solution to a common problem? People are uplifted by stories that showcase acts of bravery, kindness, or positive change. For example, a cure for a widespread disease would make a compelling news story because it ultimately improves quality of life.
Whether you like surprises or not, there’s no denying that using the element of surprise in news stories is a good approach. When readers, viewers, or listeners encounter information that makes them think, “Well, I never knew that!” it piques their curiosity and keeps them engaged.
Is there a continuation of a story from the past that could be followed up? People love to know what has happened to individuals from the past who were involved in a previous story. Providing updates, progress or changes over time can make the narrative more compelling, which increases the chances of a story getting picked up.
- The news organisation’s agenda
Every news organisation has its own history, ethos and target audience. Understanding the news outlet’s perspective and aligning your story accordingly can increase the chances of it being considered.
How to put the news criteria into practice
While the above can be useful in identifying the hooks that can draw journalists in, it can be tricky to put this into practice – especially if your story doesn’t fit any criteria. So we’ve pulled together five questions to consider to help make your story newsworthy.
Is the story topical or timely?
Keep an eye out for opportunities to jump onto breaking news or ongoing stories. This means it should be happening right now or just about to happen. Think about your organisation’s unique perspective on the subject and how you can offer a fresh take or valuable insight. Oh, and don’t forget to plan ahead and align your story with upcoming events in the year!
Is the story relevant for your audience?
Next, ask yourself if the story is relevant to your readers, viewers, and listeners. The more people it affects, the more newsworthy it becomes. Make sure it’s seen as important and interesting, not just by the journalists but also by the ultimate target audience. This way, you can focus your efforts where you’re most likely to succeed.
What’s unusual or unique about this story?
Ask yourself what makes your story stand out? It’s all about being unusual or, even better, unique. Remember, the “new” in news means people haven’t seen or heard this before. So find that special angle or creative element that sets your story apart from the others. Be bold and bring something fresh to the table.
Is there trouble, tragedy or triumph?
When it comes to adding valuable tension, think about any trouble, tragedy, or even triumph over tragedy that can make your story more captivating. Journalists love looking at both sides of the coin and seeking different perspectives. They want to know who would challenge or oppose the situation. This impartial approach ensures a balanced view and often leads to stories where journalists champion the public’s right to information.
Where is the human interest?
News is all about people. While celebrities may attract media attention, real people with heroic or extraordinary stories to tell are just as, if not more, compelling. Don’t underestimate the power of stories that touch people’s hearts and resonate with their own experiences.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed after all that and unsure how to make a start, don’t worry, we’ve got you! Our team of experts at our integrated marketing agency know a thing or two about writing compelling news stories.