How To Tell If Your News is Actually “Newsworthy”

public relations agency pitches

Most business owners know that one of the best ways to grow your brand is through the press. Earned media is any story that is told about your brand that is not paid for or sponsored. These media placements are a huge part of public relations, as they are one of the most effective ways to establish your brand as credible and legitimate. Oftentimes, these are the stories that your public relations agency pitches to journalists in hopes that they will pick it up or incorporate it into their editorial calendar. However, journalists won’t write about a story just because – the story needs to be newsworthy. Here, we break down what it means to be newsworthy in the eyes of the media, and how to ensure any announcements or stories your brand is sharing meets the criteria to be picked up.


What Makes Something “Newsworthy”? 

Unfortunately, being newsworthy doesn’t just mean that you have news. At one point or another, most businesses will find themselves with some announcement or event that the media simply isn’t picking up, and if you’re not a trained public relations professional, it may be hard to discern why.

When deciding what is newsworthy, journalists often rely on five news values:

  1. Timeliness – is the story breaking news? Was the announcement just made? Will they be the first to cover it?
  2. Proximity – Is the story relevant to their audience? Is it something that is happening ‘close to home’?
  3. Conflict and Controversy – Is the news causing conflict? Is it something highlighting problems in the community?
  4. Human Interest – Does the news deal with people directly? Did someone overcome something? Did someone do something amazing, unusual, or groundbreaking?
  5. Relevance – Will the story affect people’s lives? Will it change the way we do things?

Generally, if your announcement doesn’t check off at least one of these values, it won’t be covered in the media. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t make your news newsworthy.


How to Make Your News Newsworthy – Newsjacking

One of the best reasons to hire a public relations agency is that PR professionals have the skills, know-how, and experience to turn your news into newsworthy stories. When it comes to announcements like product launches, changes in company leadership, or a rebranding, it is often useful to turn to other news currently being covered and trying to fit into that narrative. This practice is called newsjacking, and it is one of the best ways to find what makes your brand relevant and turn your stories into timely, relevant news.


What Does Newsjacking Look Like? 

However, while an effective tactic, newsjacking has to be done carefully and strategically. The point isn’t to piggyback onto any news that has a tiny bit to do with your company. The point is to leverage the timeliness of a topic and find how your brand adds value to the narrative. While you can get creative and explore tons of different angles, your brand should fit naturally into the topic. It shouldn’t be something that you have to force, twist, or manipulate your brand to fit into.

For example: say you run a local floral business in Los Angeles. A news story breaks about a local couple who had a swarm of bees attack their wedding due to the kinds of flowers they used. You could then pitch to media your take and advice about the story. You could offer advice on choosing the best flowers that won’t attract bees, or talk about different repellants to avoid a bug-fiasco at your next event.


How to Newsjack

When looking for stories to newsjack, look for articles and stories that are in your industry or affect your clientele. Set up Google alerts for relevant keywords, and read the news outlets that you want to get into. Read up on your competitors and see what kinds of stories they’re getting into. Familiarizing yourself with the news about your industry is the best way to find holes and will give you tons of ideas about where your brand can best add value and information to the public.

Ultimately, the best way to make your news newsworthy is to actually read the news, and understand what stories get shared and why. Realize that not all news is newsworthy, and that’s okay. Public relations and brand awareness is about slow growth and patience, and slow and steady wins the race. The more strategic you are about your media placements, the more authentic and credible the stories will be.


To learn more about ways that our public relations agency pitches to media, click here.