Public Relations
Jan 5, 2014

Litmus Test–Is Your News Worthy Enough to be Covered?

Old News - canon rebel t2i

Old News – canon rebel t2i (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

How do you know if your news will be worthy of a story from an editor? You may be asking yourself if the news you have is interesting to an editor and if he or she will run the story.  There’s a litmus test that you need to run through with each story idea.  Since PR is a bit of black magic, there are many unknowns and each situation is a little bit different. However, if you ask yourself these questions, you should stand a fighting chance.

  1. Why is my news interesting to this editor?
  2. Why should someone care about your news
  3. What difference does my news make to my industry and market segment?
  4. Is my news unique? Does it change the lives of business buyers or consumers?
  5. Honestly ask yourself—“Is my news puffery?”

Let’s run through an example:
Entrepreneur Joe has just hired a key staff member, his vice president of sales. Joe’s start-up company has some interesting new technology and Joe believes that his VP of Sales from the major competitor will make competitors sit up and take notice that the game has changed.  He thinks that the trade press will be interested in this news and want to write about his company. Let’s go through the questions and see if the hiring of the VP of sales is newsworthy of coverage. Why is the news of the hiring of the VP of Sales interesting to trade press editors? The simple truth is that it isn’t. The litmus test shows that this isn’t news. Why should someone care about this news? While it’s always exciting to build a team and hire away good people, the simple announcement of the VP of Sales is nothing that an editor would care about.  Again, the test says this isn’t news. What difference does this news make to Joe’s industry? It may end up being significant that the VP of sales joined Joe’s company but right now, without any major customer wins to announce along with the hiring, this announcement doesn’t make any difference. No news. For question 4, the hiring hasn’t changed the lives of the business buyers or consumers. And finally, question 5, this news isn’t puffery but it still doesn’t warrant a unique company story. What Joe can do is make his personnel announcement and most metropolitan city newspapers in the US run a section on promotions and new hires. This is where Joe should be focusing on for news coverage. Now how can Joe make this announcement more interesting and newsworthy? He can add to the story. Along with the announcement of the VP, he can also add a major new customer win or perhaps a partnership with a sales channel, perhaps distribution or reseller. He’s building the news value of the story by adding to it. His one legged story (bringing the VP on board) has become a three-pronged story with the customer win and the partnership. Now, when you go back and ask yourself the litmus test questions, the answers are different. Yes, the news is interesting. Yes, someone does care that Joe’s company is growing and adding people, customers and partnerships. Yes, it does make a difference to the industry or market segment that Joe’s company has done this. Now the competitors will be sitting up and taking notice.  It’s unique to announce all 3 parts of the story at once. It may start to make a difference to the lives of business buyers or consumers (depending on what the product is that Joe’s company sells). This news is not just puffery, it has substance. So, ask yourself these questions when you start planning your press release calendar. Sometimes it is better to wait and put several announcements together to help you sell a story and generate interest among editors for your story.

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