How does a journalist decide if your story is good?

Sarah Lee
0 minutes

Journalists get hundreds of stories in their inbox every day. That’s hundreds of companies doing countless things they thought were newsworthy. Only a handful of those will get published. The decision-making process for a press release is not as arbitrary as you might think. Journalists subconsciously measure a story against a hierarchy of news values:

Size - is it the biggest or the smallest?

Negativity - let’s face it, bad news makes good news

Positivity - feel good factor

Impact - how many affected?

Timeliness - news is right now?

Expectedness - the more unexpected the better e.g. man bites dog rather than dog bites man

Prominence - big names are better than nobodies — sorry this is very unfair for all small businesses

Personalisation - show the human face, the people story behind our news

Visual attractiveness - has it got a photograph? While all journalists aim to be impartial when assessing a press release they are all influenced by an internal system of values and beliefs. And reporters are in turn governed by their editors who decide what news stories to publish and in what order. Your press release has a lot of hurdles to jump before it gets published. Read your press release against the news values listed above and see how it rates. And is there anything you can do to improve its chances?

Ask yourself again, Why is your press release important? If you can answer that, you have a newsworthy press release.

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