What creates a newsworthy story?
Journalists weigh news values when determining whether or not to cover an event or announcement. Here are the values that we consider when developing an outreach strategy.
Arguably the most important element of newsworthiness is whether or not the news item being communicated impacts a news outlet's audience. For example, let's imagine researchers have found a cost-effective solution to a common problem. The more people affected, the greater the news interest.
Proximity is important. Journalists are interested in things that impact their communities. For example, research on a state's new tax code likely won't generate the same interest across state borders.
Occasionally experts can help localize a larger national story that impacts more than just a city or state. In these cases, it is important to be on the lookout for opportunities where subject matter experts can provide insight or where similar projects may be happening locally.
News consumers expect timely information. If you are publishing newsworthy research, loop in University Communications prior to the article being published so that the pitch can emphasize the newest element of the story: the publication of the research.
Events and announcements that involve high-profile figures are more likely to generate media coverage. Visits from national figures often require months of preparation due to anticipated community interest. University Communications staff have helped many campus partners plan communication for events involving prominent figures.
Stories often involve some kind of conflict. By definition, these stories are almost always controversial to some degree. Fortunately, university staff and faculty are generally perceived as impartial experts. University Communications can help mitigate potential reputational risk with these stories while also increasing the odds of generating coverage.
While many of the above news values are interwoven, human interest stories often stand apart. These stories speak to our shared experience, emphasizing uniquely human elements such as personal growth or an unexpected act of kindness. Human interest elements can add news value to other stories that might appear to be lacking in the other values.
The novelty or oddity of a situation can help influence whether or not a news outlet is likely to cover a story.
Requesting Media Outreach
While this is not an exhaustive list, checking to see if your news item or event has these qualities before contacting University Communications will help you determine which elements hold the most news value. Think you have a great story? We want to hear from you. Email firstname.lastname@example.org