Criteria #7: When a dog bites a man, no one cares. When the man bites back – now that’s a news story.” Photo courtesy of FarFromMoscow.com.

This may seem obvious on the surface, but it is surprising how many business people do not really understand what it means for a story to be worthy of mainstream press coverage.

You get too swept up in your day-to-day life, excited about what you’re working on and forget how it applies to the rest of us.   It’s great to love what you do, but in order to get it covered by the local television stations or newspaper, you need to think outside of your own world.

To know what makes something newsworthy, check out the standard seven criteria for “newsworthiness.”

Or, ask what I call the magic question:  “Why does anyone else care about this?”
If you ask that question in relation to your news release, you’re guaranteed to improve your chances to get coverage.

Example: Your company opens a brand new office and wants the local newspaper to run a story about the grand opening. You issue a press release announcing your move into a new glistening 3,000 square feet of space, that the move “represents our success” and “provides opportunity for future growth” and is located in the “west district.”

Blah. B-O-R-I-N-G. Who cares?!

A news release with this information will get tossed in the newsroom and never get a moment of consideration because, despite the recession, businesses are opening their doors or moving every day. Unless your company is a major employer in the area and the move is going to affect hundreds of people’s commute or the local economy, it’s not going to get covered.  A new office is not a newsworthy event.

Don’t get mad at me yet – there is hope still.

Here’s the good news:  There is almost always a news angle, but you have to look below the surface to find it. And to find it, always think about how this information applies to the people who are going to end up reading it.

So, ask the magic question.  “Why does anyone else care about this?”

In the case of the grand opening you want covered by your local newspaper or TV station, think about how it applies to the people in your community who will hear about it.

  • Does the grand opening mean you will be hiring new people?  (More than two people, please.)
  • Have you renovated a historic building?
  • Are local “celebrities” coming to your grand opening?
  • Are you cutting back prices or making a donation to a local charity to celebrate?
  • Are you allowing employees to bring pets to work in the new space?
  • Does the office have a new daycare facility for employees’ kids?
  • Did you have to cart 7,000 items to your new space?

All of these examples have great news hooks that instantly provide a human interest angle to make your story “newsworthy.”  So, when you sit down to plan or write your next news release, start by asking yourself why anyone else would think twice about your company news.

If you rack your brain and can’t come up with any reasons why the community would care, then change your focus, your target audience.  Perhaps you need to think about targeting different kinds media outlets with your story; find an outlet that does care about your grand opening. After all, news is in the eye of the beholder.

Stay tuned for the next post in the “Why Your PR Isn’t Working” series about this very topic.