Journalists and assignment desks are bombarded with hundreds of news releases on a daily basis. I’ve worked on the other side so I’ve seen this first hand. The steady stream of carefully-crafted messaging travels across wires and into inboxes shouting, “Pick me! Pick me!”…with one goal in mind: to be noticed and exposed to the masses.
Let’s be frank. Just because you write a news release, doesn’t mean your story will make the front page (or the middle, or the back for that matter). It’s great that your vice-president sold his custom 1975 Chevy Nova and donated the money to the children’s charity down the street; however, this isn’t an invitation to write and distribute a news release. Or is it?
If you’ve ever worked in a newsroom, you can understand how busy a workday can be. Most of my experience with journalism has been with the broadcasting side of things – an entirely different beast if you ask me. Not only are you responsible for writing copy, you have to gather footage, tape standups and sort through it all so the pictures match with your words before you sit down with the video editor and record your voice-over. It’s a lot of work! There’s very little time to focus on anything else throughout the day – as a reporter, you live and breathe your story. That’s why it’s so important to grab their attention and that of their assignment editor’s with a newsworthy release.
In order to get media coverage, your news has to have appeal (a.k.a. a news hook). Before you even write your news release, you have to ask yourself, “would anyone be interested in this”?
What kinds of stories make the news? Those that…
- Capture our natural human interests
- Are unique and/or new
- Include celebrities
- Are local
- Have controversy
- Are timely and relevant to the time of season/year
Keep these six news hooks in mind the next time you decide to write a news release for distribution. Furthermore, you should really know the news market and journalist you’re distributing to. Big city news outlets and small town publications may differ greatly in the type of news coverage they prefer. The same applies for news conferences. There’s no sense in planning a media event if your announcement has no chance of making it into the headlines.
Put yourself in the shoes of a reporter and their audience and give them something to take note of!