Making Business News Newsworthy Part 1: Defining News

Originally published: 2010-09-08

Part 1 of a 3 Part Series Making Business News Newsworthy:

Part 1: Learning What is Newsworthy
Part 2: Writing a Capturing News Release
Part 3: How to Send a Press Release

This 3 part series will be published over 4 weeks, so make sure to subscribe so you receive a full picture view of how to successfully make your business newsworthy.

PART 1: Learning What is Newsworthy

I can promise you there is only rule to obtaining media coverage:

Make your business’s accomplishment newsworthy

Most of you believe you can accomplish that one task easily, but you are mistaken. In fact, most business owners and managers are so close to the business, they tend to think every accomplishment is newsworthy.  If that’s true, why aren’t news reporters pounding down your door?

As a marketing professional for 11 years and former television reporter and freelance journalist (1998-2004), I will provide you with some solid, easy to follow tips on how to turn your regular business updates into news flashes.

4 questions to gauge if your news is really news:

Is it controversial or does it have interest for others outside your regular customers?
Does it benefit the community or a group of people positively or negatively?
Will it prompt comments or discussion within the community?
Should anyone care except you (the owner)?

To be controversial or not to be

Controversy good and bad believe it or not will produce news and very often it has been said bad news coverage can actually be good news coverage. The exception to this rule would be extremely bad news that has an adverse effect on the population such as BP’s oil spill.

A good example of bad news that prompted bad and good news coverage and helped a company is Tylenol’s recall some years ago that actually improved company sales.

To benefit the community or not to benefit

If your business’s news will help others in the community or prove interesting, then it might be newsworthy. For example, if Shoney’s or Perkins offered free meals for a full week to anyone that would be newsworthy, because during these economic times many families are struggling to feed themselves.

What would NOT be newsworthy is a story about a park throwing a community open house to connect people with services. Why not you ask? Because there is no wow factor – it’s just an event.

Another newsworthy “benefit” story example is if a fitness trainer were to say give away $ 5,000 to the biggest loser for a weight loss competition in a city rated at the top of the obesity or unhealthy lists.

 

News that prompts community comments good and bad

Remember this above all else. Even if people are outraged at your news, (maybe you are closing a factory or raising prices) news coverage is still news coverage.  Very often, outrage can route right back around into solid, good news about your business.

Many businesses fear bad media coverage as a result of a negative announcement. You CANNOT CONTROL WHAT THE MEDIA WRITES. What you can control is what you say and how you say it.

Example: local park where I live had some employees leave a special needs teen in a hot car for a couple of hours purely by accident – media was all over it – but the park system handled it brilliantly by investigating the incident, temporarily suspending employees, meeting with the teen’s parents and honestly answering the media’s questions.  Controversial news became “what the park did right” news.

Should anyone care about the news but you?

Sure your new tanning beds, your new car washing services or your restaurant’s new dish may be interesting to you, but who else really cares about it unless you give them a reason to care?

If you want to send out a press release to give your business a pat on the back, you are not going to get media coverage.

Examples of stories that made news because people cared:

Collier County animal shelter announced a potential end to pet adoptions if the budget was cut
A state announces increases to sales or income taxes
Oil drilling off Florida shores

General examples of what is newsworthy in today’s news climate:

A business closing after being open for more than 30 years
A business laying off people, even if it’s fewer than 10
Businesses offering discounts or day of free service for unemployed
Free gift or prize without purchase
Food giveaways
New business or expansion of a business in this economic turmoil
Animals – always news regardless
Kids – always news if it has to do with helping them, raising money or special needs children

Use the above as a guide to identify where your news falls – on the floor or on in the paper?

Part 2 of this 3-part series is Writing a Capturing Press Release. To learn more about DREAMFly Marketing’s services, visit the firm’s website.

 

Camden Smith, the owner of DREAMFly Marketing, has more than 11 years of public relations and media experience and eight years in the marketing industry. Smith was a television reporter from 1998 to 2002 and then a freelance magazine and newspaper journalist from 2002 to 2004.  She became a full service marketing professional in 2002.