What kind of news grabs the attention? What increases the chance for a story to be picked up by journalists and the media? And what about social media? Which values and topics triggers people to share posts on platforms such as Facebook? It definitely doesn’t hurt to be reminded of the values that will make your story more newsworthy.
News is something people want to know or need to know, it is what editors and reporters find interesting and relevant. But how can you increase your odds of getting media coverage? A study done by Harcup and O’Neill led to an updated set of news values. The findings show that you as a PR practitioner need to keep several factors in mind. Based on these findings, here are five concrete tips while crafting your pitches:
- Exclusivity and follow-up: Be the first and write about something new! Current news has much more impact than older news. And once there is more news on the same subject, write a follow-up.
- Conflict and bad news: Your story needs a conflict. People love to hear about plane crashes, controversies and other bad news.
- Celebrity and entertainment: Write about (famous) people and soft stories concerning show business and lighter human interest, because familiarity is important to the audience.
- Magnitude: Stories which are perceived to be significant to a large number of people are more effective. The more people it affects, the better.
- The power-elite and relevance: Write about stories concerning powerful individuals or organizations and groups which are perceived to be influential.
Nowadays, the “shareability” is also taken into consideration by
several journalists when selecting material for publication.
The big question that news organizations face is:
What elements make content viral in the digital environment? A study by researchers García-Perdomo, Salaverría, Kilgo and Harlow explored what values and news topics receive the most social recommendations on Facebook and Twitter through sharing, liking and commenting. News values such as human interest, conflict and controversy appear to trigger both Facebook and Twitter users to share and interact with news articles. So as a PR professional, take into account that the unexpected and dramatic really does catch the attention of the social media users, since they more often share and react to those stories than other news stories concerning different values. Stories concerning soft topic news (like odd news and entertainment) in combination with hard topic news (like life/society) also do well on social media.
Spin your story
Knowing the news values mentioned above and knowing when a story increases shareability online will help to spin your story in a way that it will attract an editor or journalist. So, if you are aiming to obtain maximum news coverage, then ask yourself: ‘is this news?’ and make sure you keep the news values in mind while writing your story.
Esmee Roetman, 21 years old
Currently a student in the Master track Corporate Communication at the University of Amsterdam