Although we watch it, read it, Tweet it, listen to it, and discuss it every day, few people have really stopped to consider the question, “What is news?”
The Republican presidential race recently taught us that media coverage is a big deal. Public relations professionals have a bag of tricks to help you earn news coverage, but they can’t share things with the press that they don’t know about themselves. Entrepreneurs obviously don’t want to waste everyone’s time with the mundane things that happen to your brand. That's futile and makes you unpopular with the very reporters you hope to impress.
On the other hand, there may be things happening within your startup walls that seem routine to you, but would make a great news feature. So how do you decide? Ask yourself these questions before you go public with your next press release.
1. Do you find it interesting?
If something you’re doing strikes you as out-of-the-ordinary, there’s a good chance it is. Imagine yourself reading about it in the newspaper. Would you keep reading, or turn the page? Your own gut is a powerful indicator of what is news worthy.
2. Who is affected?
If a new company process is a perfunctory matter that only impacts the way paperwork is filed, it is not news. But if it affects anyone outside of your company, be it consumers, investors, or the community, there’s a good chance it’s worth taking a second look. Items that affect only your employees may still have merit, depending on how far-reaching the impact is.
3. Did it happen in the last 30 days?
This may seem like a no-brainer, but you wouldn’t be the first business owner to try and pass old news off as something noteworthy. Repackaging old content can be a good marketing strategy, but it usually doesn’t make a good media pitch. Thirty days is a good benchmark, but whatever passes for recent in your industry is a good rule of thumb.
4. Does it tell your company story?
This question is one of the most important when you consider what to share with the media, but it is not a black-and-white issue. Items that showcase your brand include industry innovation, community service, domestic manufacturing, charitable giving, company culture, milestones, landing an endorsement deal -- you get the picture.
These events are prime candidates for positive news coverage. On the other hand, hiding things that don’t reflect positively on your brand can backfire. Go back to question #2 – if the issue affects stakeholders outside of your company, consider making it public before someone else does.
Related: The PR Industry Is Dead to Me
5. Does it impact the bottom line?
Events in your company’s evolution that impact your profit margin are often shareable news. For example, new product launches, updated manufacturing processes, hiring a significant number of employees, patent filings, facility expansions and other similar incidents might be of interest to reporters.
6. Is it a new innovation?
“News” is just that -- something new, something first. If you’re exploring new technology, making new discoveries, or developing any product, service, or process that changes the way people live, work or play, you’ve absolutely got a news story on your hands.
7. Is it related to other current events?
Believe it or not, what happens to a lion in Africa can and sometimes does impact your company’s relevancy to the press. Are you a taxidermy startup? An expert in property disputes? Maybe you’re very involved with your local zoo or animal shelter. All of these things relate to trending topics of the day, and are more likely to get you news coverage than your event alone. We call this “riding the wave” or “drafting.”
Third-party press hits may be the missing piece in your marketing strategy. This “earned media” carries greater credibility and has longer shelf life then advertising. Such coverage may be reused as content for sales brochures, websites, and social media sharing. Consider sharing this list with employees throughout your company. Your staff may have terrific ideas for news.