Mallory Boulware

This is a blog for PR Writing

Week 6: What Makes a Story Newsworthy? February 18, 2010

Filed under: COMM 4333,T.O.W. — mbboulware @ 2:32 pm

The book, Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques by Dennis L. Wilcox, points out a number of different components to making a story worthy for the news. These include: timeliness, prominence, proximity, significance, unusualness, human interest, conflict and newness.

The most important one is often timeliness. The reason for that is, if you are writing a story about something that happened even five years ago, depending on what it is, people are most likely not going to rush to read about it because its old news. This may seem like a similar technique to newness but timeliness is more along the lines of planning ads around popularly recognized events. Good timing can cause people to buy into it. An example could be to advertise toys around Christmas because what child does not get or want a toy for Christmas.

Prominence means having someone of status such as a celebrity or former Olympian promote a product or event. This will attract media coverage even if it just a local public figure; people will be interested.

Proximity is all about “localizing” information. When an article gives local information or tips for finding something locally, people feel connected. More so than advertising a store in New York City in a nationally-read magazine.

Significance deals with the number of people a situation affects. Basically, if the story you want to run is talking about a turtle club that is getting shut down in a community (complete example), than it probably will not affect many people and therefore have few readers.

Making sure to note something or write an article about something that is unusual or very untypical will cause people to pick up a copy. When it’s not the same-ole, same-ole then people will probably be more likely to read into it. Likewise, people will read about people. An article about celebrities is screaming for attention because people are so interested in other people’s lives. Have you noticed all the hype about Jon & Kate plus 8? There you go, perfect example of how people get mesmerized by other people’s lives. A spotlight on a family or person (not necessarily a celebrity) will bring interest.

Conflict also makes people look. If a protest is going on, people want to know why, when and how it happened.

Lastly, newness affects newsworthiness. New products, new ways of preparing a food, new movies… people are probably already interested as we speak. It generates great news.

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