It’s a widely accepted notion that journalists and PRs have a love/hate relationship. In the main, PRs love journalists who use their press releases, and journalists hate PRs who send them irrelevant spam.
I find the key to breaking down the barrier some journos put up to PRs is to be entirely confident that the press release I’m sending will be of value to the journalist’s readership. If it isn’t I should step away from the mouse and go back to the drawing board, because otherwise I’m just wasting everyone’s precious time. This consideration could be the difference between a successful PR strategy and an epic waste of resources.
So, what are the rules on what is valuable to a particular readership? Well, common sense should prevail here. If you were speaking to someone you knew in the area covered by the media outlet, and you read them the press release, would they give a tiny rat’s…? Or, if you want a more structured approach, the factors below will impact on a story’s newsworthiness.
• Prominence – If it is a company they know of or a well-known person in the area, it will be of interest to a journalist
• Impact – if there are consequences occurring, or changes made as a result of the story
• Proximity – the further away the ‘event’ depicted in a press release is happening, the less newsworthy it is
• Human interest – when readers find relevance by imagining themselves in the shoes of the subject of an article
• Conflict – it doesn’t always matter why, but a fight is a fight and it’s newsworthy.
• Timeliness – “that was SOooo yesterday’s news”
• Currency – this comes into play when a story grabs the attention of readers and related stories that may not have been of interest before now are
• Weird and wonderful – if something makes you automatically want to show it to someone, it probably falls into this category.
Often stories may only reflect a couple of the factors above, but the more boxes ticked, the more meaty a story becomes. And when a story gets meaty journalists can’t help but get their teeth into it.
Of course, you can have a cracking story and still fail to get it published by committing heinous crimes against journalism/journalists. These include: failing to meet deadlines (this one really hacks off the hacks), sending poorly written releases and not being available for a follow-up.
When it comes to journalists, if you give them what they want (and not what you want to give them) they will learn to love you.