Before drafting a news release, consider the lesson learned by the little shepherd boy who cried wolf. By the time the real wolf arrived, none of the villagers believed him. The same can be said of news releases that cry for attention but lack real news value. Send them often enough and, when your organization has important information to communicate, it will fall on deaf ears.
Even in our 24/7 digital news world, credibility is key. So, how do you determine if your story is newsworthy? Here are three key questions to consider.
Does it contain one of the 10 elements of news?
At Curious Plot, we look at the established building blocks of news: proximity, prominence, emotion, impact, consequence, usefulness, timeliness, controversy, extremes and oddity. A story with one or more of these elements has the power to generate earned media.
What’s the hook?
We also look for the news angle, aka the “hook.” If you can show evidence of a trend (hint: three makes a trend), localize a national story, or leverage a time-sensitive event or observance, you bring a sense of urgency and relevance to your newsworthy story.
Who is it for?
Understanding your audience – from the readers, to the reporters, to the outlet – is key. Make sure you’ve thought through the following questions to ensure there’s value for the people you want to reach.
- Who is your audience? Will the media outlet’s viewers or readers care?
- Besides the “who,” can you define the “what, when, where and why” of your story?
- Why is your announcement/information important to that audience i.e., what’s in it for them?
- Is your message self-serving? If it is, then you’re better off looking at a different strategy.
Thinking through these questions ahead of writing your release can save you time and energy if you determine the press won’t pay off. Stories that lack news value still may be worthy of sharing but via paid and owned channels, not earned.
Don’t cry wolf. Save the news release for what’s truly newsworthy.