With the sheer number of channels at a communicator’s disposal today, it’s probably not surprising that some have boldly proclaimed, “Media relations is dying.” But simply declaring this doesn’t make it true.
Most PR professionals would be hard pressed to name a client who hasn’t complained because they didn’t like how their organization was treated in an article, or wondered aloud, “Why aren’t more reporters writing about we’re doing?” After all, earned media is still viewed as more trusted than organization-controlled content.
Despite the important role the media plays as an influencer, many find generating media coverage to be a challenge. Often, this is a result of confusion about what is truly newsworthy. If you ask 100 people how they define news, you’ll receive a 100 different answers. Though few, if any, are likely to prove very actionable.
So what makes a particular story angle newsworthy, and another not? Whether I was representing the ideas of a think tank, a presidential candidate, a major payment card brand or an investment firm, I’ve always found that, “All I really needed to know about what is news, I learned in my 10th grade English class.”
Over the years, the news cycle has shrunk, a web-based media landscape has emerged and journalists have come and gone, but the traditional characteristics that have been used to define newsworthiness. The seven attributes of timeliness, proximity, prominence, conflict, impact, human interest and novelty have stood the test of time.
These defining characteristics explain why media outlets found the birth of Kim Kardashian’s new baby boy, Donald Trump’s latest comments from the campaign trail, and the continuing decline in oil prices all stories that were fit to print– on the same day. By the same token, an absence of these key attributes would explain why a particular reporter may have found a proposed story theme interesting, but not newsworthy.
Transforming the “interesting” into a compelling and newsworthy story angle is at the very core of effective media relations. It’s a creative, collaborative and iterative process that combines an understanding of what is news with a client’s library of ideas or deeds to produce tangible results that are far more rewarding – and valuable – than a fleeting, virtual “like.”