We are frequently asked by clients if a particular story is newsworthy.  Can we get this covered?  Who will pick it up?  Can we get on TV?

And often we find ourselves in the position of explaining why certain stories just aren’t going to get covered by the media, which is often frustrating to the client.

Just the other day, we had a long-time broadcast news veteran, Jack Trammell with VNR1, come to our office for a “lunch and learn” with our staff.  And Jack gave us a list of “The Five Enduring Commandments of News,” which are just as relevant today as they were many years ago.  As a former journalist myself, I heartily agree with all five of these, and I wanted to share them with you.

  1. Topicality.  Is the story relevant to what is going on in the world at this moment?  Is it something that large numbers of viewers or readers will be interested in?  For example, a company doing research on a cure for Ebola would have become instantly topical last year during the outbreak in the U.S.
  2. Timeliness.  The story must be “happening right now” or “tomorrow.”  The news media hates “yesterday.” With the continued rise of digital and social media, even “earlier today” may not qualify as newsworthy anymore.
  3. Localization.  The news must be local and of interest to the LOCAL market.  A newspaper or TV station in Dallas is not going to cover an event in New York, and vice versa.
  4. Humanization.  You must have a human element to make a good story.  Maybe you’re opening a new factory, and that factory will employ a woman who has been supporting her three children on welfare for years.  That humanizes an otherwise dull story about a factory opening.
  5. Visuality.  You need a visual element, or better yet, multi-media elements, to really get the attention of a reporter.  This goes without saying for television, but even radio and print require visual elements that can be included on their digital platforms.  Provide this in a release and you have a much better chance of getting a story.

Jack’s company, VNR1, specializes in watching the news media and understanding how, when and why to distribute news releases.  And he had one more important observation:  the traditional, text-only news release is dead.  Releases must have some multi-media elements to escape the “delete” button.  Good advice for all of us.

Gail Cooksey
President & Founder