What Makes News?

22/04/2013

A charity recently asked Arch Communications for advice on how to use the media to raise their profile. The secret is to know the answer to the fundamental question – what makes news? Once you understand how to get journalists interested in your world, you can produce press releases with confidence – knowing they are unlikely to be binned or deleted without even being read.

In fact, all news falls into a remarkably small number of categories:

  • Conflict. Issues involving differences of opinion or controversy; virtually all politics.
  • Human interest. People are interested in other people, both famous and otherwise.
  • Events. Significant happenings: natural disasters, big sporting occasions, royal weddings.
  • Relevance. Things that affect us directly – the weather, prices, events close to home.
  • The unusual. Any kind of record-breaking; things out of the ordinary, quirky or funny.
  • Topicality. Things which connect to what is already news

The trick is to ensure that what you have to say embraces at least one of these categories, and ideally more than one. Topicality has particular potential for organisations wanting to establish a media profile. Journalists are instinctively more receptive to what is already in the news, so exploit the opportunity – perhaps by commenting on the impact of a government policy or revealing a relevant business trend.

In all of this, there is always a need for finesse and timing. Finally – never forget the importance of answering the “so what?” factor. If it’s not of interest to the journalist, it probably won’t be to anyone else!