What Makes A Newsworthy Story?


At the speed of today’s fast-paced news cycle, producers and reporters have very little time to check their emails. Producers often sift through their inbox in-between broadcasts and production meetings, and reporters check their emails on-the-go while in the field; many receive anywhere from 250 to 400 emails per day from people who want their product, business or themselves on TV or in the newspaper. Yikes!

As a former reporter, I can tell you the number one attribute that caught my eye as I reviewed my emails: newsworthiness. When I came across a story idea that was newsworthy, I would always take notice! So, what makes a newsworthy story?

1. News outlets want timely

Reporters, journalists and the media outlets they work for pride themselves on being the first to report on a story. Some stories have a short shelf life and, if you’re pitching old news, you’ll fail to get the coverage you’re seeking. Whether you’re looking to get coverage for a new office opening or offering insight on recent market volatility, your news needs to be timely. For example, AdvisorPR recently secured national and local media coverage by developing a pitch on market volatility due to the Coronavirus. The moment we saw the impact the virus was having on the markets, we acted quickly in contacting producers and reporters, and it paid off.

Questions to ask yourself:

Do you have any upcoming company events? Do you have unique insight on current news events? This is great information to proactively share with your PR team! For example, this is an election year, and during the last election cycle, many local and national journalists were shifted from their regular “beat” to cover politics. Will a candidate be touring your city? Can you tie what your firm offers to the political environment? Even providing an objective explanation to a candidate’s view on healthcare, taxes, the economy or similar can be of interest to a reporter. Be creative in how you couple your expertise with the political conversation, while staying mindful not to overshare polarizing personal opinions.

2. News outlets want unique

I’ve participated in many client meetings over the years with CEOs and marketing executives who told me what initiative their company would like to promote. I’ve also had the opportunity to sit in on interviews where reporters interview a client. Sometimes what the client wants to promote and the angle the media wants to cover isn’t always aligned. You have to think outside the box for a unique angle that catches the media’s attention while still delivering your message.

Here’s an example. Years ago, I was working with a client whose goal was to promote a bike race. There are bike races in every city and state around the country, so an unusual angle for feature coverage can be hard to come by. At one point, the client mentioned a local fire captain that was a regular competitor of this event. The fire captain was an amputee that competes with one arm, and in his spare time, helps veterans recover from physical and psychological injuries. Even though the client only mentioned this to me in passing I knew, “This is the hook!” Rather than pitching a story that simply promoted a bike race, this unique angle gave it a great news hook. The media was all over this story, and I secured press on TV, and in print to promote the event. The event was covered, but it took a different perspective to get it the coverage it deserved.

Questions to ask yourself:

Can you take an ordinary event and make it unique? For example, in the midst of tax season, everyone is offering insight on how to file tax returns, but what can you offer that is unique and different? One year, AdvisorPR secured a tax-season story in Cleveland after alerting a local news station that the state of Ohio was experience delays in their returns. This unique angle broke through the clutter and still provided our client with the opportunity to provide tax time tips.

3. News outlets want new and unique information packaged with a fantastic interview.

Producers and editors live and die by the numbers of people watching or reading their content. If someone gives a lousy interview, producers and editors know their audience will quickly change the channel or put down the article. With the number of people vying for the media coverage, reporters prefer to work with the person who gives an excellent discussion and makes them and their outlet look good.

Questions to ask yourself:

When scheduled for a TV interview, do you prepare ahead of time? Do you know the talking points so well that your message rolls off your tongue? Do you keep in mind the audience of the outlet? Your talking points for a local TV interview should be different than the insight you share with The Wall Street Journal. Are you crafting answers for an audience that is financially savvy or to a demographic that will be contributing to a 401(k) for the first time? Viewers and readers should be able to walk away with new information and insight that they are able to implement.

Practicing these guidelines might just snag you a recurring gig!

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