Media Relations: Making Your Story More Newsworthy

During my career as the head of media relations for the world's second largest environmental group, I regularly heard a common refrain from the scientists who so desperately wanted press attention for their projects. "But my project is so important," they'd say, expecting that was enough to crack the evening news.

The truth is, there is often a big difference between what journalists consider "important" and what they consider "newsworthy." When pitching a story to reporters, make sure it has both elements. An "important" story without a timely "news peg" is unlikely to get much coverage.

For example, roughly 35 million people in sub-Saharan Africa are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. The magnitude of the health crisis on that continent cannot be overstated, and no news editor would likely dub the story unimportant.

But why would that story be on the evening news today? The crisis is as bad today as it was yesterday, and it will likely be just as bad tomorrow as it is today. In order for it to make news again, something has to happen to advance the story.

For example, if the American president announced a new, $1.5 billion aid package designed to help African children orphaned by parents with AIDS, that is news. Suddenly, the magnitude of the crisis finds its way back onto the front pages and into the lead segments of news broadcasts.

How can you make a story more newsworthy? Here are three ideas you can use for your story ? the more of these you can use, the more likely you'll be to receive press coverage.

1) Announce Something New -- Since the word "news" contains the word "new," it's always a good idea to announce something that's never been announced before. Perhaps it's a new product, a new piece of research, a new piece of legislation, etc.

2) Contains an Extreme -- Reporters love anything that represents the first, last, best, worst, biggest, smallest, greatest, etc. If you are releasing the first report of its kind, say so. If your new product is the smallest microwave oven ever produced, put it in the headline.

3) Counterintuitive is Good -- Reporters love stories that make the reader do a double take and say, "What did that say?" If your story runs counter to everything we think we know, it's going to get noticed. For example, if new research concludes that dumping toxic waste in a pond actually helps the fish population, the press will be on the phone with you almost instantly.

Brad Phillips is the founder and president of Phillips Media Relations (http://www.PhillipsMediaRelations.com). He was formerly a journalist for ABC News and CNN, and also headed the media relations department for the second largest environmental group in the world.

In The News:

AI - the new age PR tool  Exchange4Media
Which PR CEOS Do Employees Respect Most?  PR News - For Smart Communicators
PR and Marketing Pro  Pedestrian TV
Who Needs PR Distribution Services?  Business 2 Community
Katie Harvey’s PR firm hits 25-year mark  San Antonio Express-News
The First Look: Puerto Rico Open  PGA TOUR/Perform Media

Its CNN! They Want To Talk To You!

Being invited to appear on radio and television used to... Read More

Publicity From Thin Air

In an ideal world, your business would be overflowing withnewsworthy... Read More

How To Write A Press Release: The Seven Deadly Sins And How To Avoid Them

How to write a press release that generates free publicity... Read More

How to Get $1000 worth of Advertising for $60

©2004 Jeffrey DobkinSixty dollars doesn't go a long way in... Read More

Do You Have A Press Package?

How do you make a friend of the media? A... Read More

Publicity: Marketing-Minded Financial Planners, Take a Reporter to Lunch

Sometimes a phone call isn't intimate or long enough to... Read More

How Public Relations Changes Minds

Public relations changes minds in the process of delivering what... Read More

Are You Newsworthy?

Non-news professionals often have a hard time understanding why their... Read More

What Some Pros Know About PR

They know they had better do something positive about those... Read More

Do You Really Need PR?

The right kind of PR, that is, the kind that... Read More

Something New For Managers?

A new public relations blueprint could be a good idea... Read More

13 Publicity Ideas for Retailers

If you're trying to promote your store, but you don't... Read More

Mission-Critical Public Relations?

As a business, non-profit or association manager, any tool that... Read More

Managers, Got a Grip on Your PR?

What are you trying to do with your business, non-profit... Read More

Make the Media Your Friend

The media (newspaper, radio, television) can be of enormous help... Read More

The Press Release Method to Get Great Publicity

If you have had any experience in public relations or... Read More

The Story The Media Really Wants

If you're like most of my clients, you're probably interested... Read More

Can Your PR Game Plan be Salvaged?

If, as is often the case, you are preoccupied with... Read More

Are You PR-Challenged?

You won't be if you accept a very simple premise.... Read More

Make Front Page News By NOT Inviting The Media

Not a single reporter showed up at our news event.... Read More

Publicity - What to Say to a Reporter

You can have dozens of marvelous ideas to get free... Read More

Post Your Press Release Online ? For Free!!

Are you launching a new product or website? Announcing a... Read More

How to Work with Newspaper Photographers

The next time a newspaper photographer takes your photo, remember... Read More

Editorial Calendars: A Key to Publicizing Your Business

What is the one thing that all of the best... Read More

Public Relations Going O.K?

Yes?Good!Still, as a business, non-profit or association manager, if you're... Read More