MR 101: Is your story newsworthy?

Public relations PRos understand the media – they understand how to help their clients tell their story to the right people. Understanding the media is part of the value that public relations PRos bring to the table.

As a PRo in Training, it may be difficult to figure out whether the story you’re being asked to pitch is newsworthy or not.

Does it have local relevance?

If you’re pitching the local press, you should have a local story. Or if you have a national story, what’s the local angle? Think about why the launch of a new Web site would be of interest to the local press before you pitch it.

A sub-question might be “Is it relevant to the media to which you are pitching?”

You may be pitching a magazine, or a national television show. In that case, you need to consider the story’s relevance to that media’s audience.

If it’s a local issue, how does it stack up against other newsworthy items?

As a PRo, you need to be a consumer of media – particularly the media in which your client, company or organization is interested in being featured. What else is going on in the world?

An editor once told me, “We’ll run the story unless the Pope dies…” Meaning, of course, that your story can get bumped, or get ignored in favor of breaking news. The irony is that just after the story ran – maybe a week – the Pope actually did die. Weird.

Does it tie in with a national or international trend?

If you had any kind of local soccer (excuse, me football) related story in the last month, you were money with the local media.

Is it unique? Or does it involve someone or something interesting, doing something novel?

Your standard “so and so announced today” release isn’t likely to highlight what you know is a unique story about what’s going on in your organization. What IS unique – figure out how to feature that in your pitch.

I’ve got a real estate development client that’s developing, well… some real estate. Imagine that. The marketing director and I have gone to great pains to tease out all the interesting stories about this particular development – the first, the best, the greenest, etc. And we’re getting good response

Does it have to be told now? Is there an immediate hook?

Timing is important. If there is a degree of urgency or immediacy to your pitch – and it HAS to be real (no fake urgency, please!) – your story will be more newsworthy.

Does it involve babies or animals?

Duh.

*Thanks, Erica!

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