In my previous life as a business and finance journalist there were few phrases more likely to make my heart sink when I met someone than “I’ve got a great story for you” or “You should be writing about this.” Invariably it was something of great interest to them and zero relevance to anybody else.
It is not unusual for businesses that are new to PR to fall into this trap. Something is important to you, so it must be important to everyone else, and the newspapers should all be writing about it.
But they don’t.
So, how can you tell if your story is news? If you can answer “yes” to any of the questions below then there is a chance that it might be.
#1. If you read the same story about one of your competitors would you be interested?
#2. Does it have any potential financial impact on the readers of the publication to which you are sending it?
#3. Does it involve any other businesses, organisations or people outside your own company? When you are talking about new recruits, for instance, readers are interested in where they worked previously. Similarly, the fact you have a new website isn’t news (this isn’t 1996), but people might be interested in knowing which supplier built it for you. And if you’ve made a big donation to a charity then it’s of interest not because it shows how great you are at CSR but because it will have a positive impact on that charity and its beneficiaries.
#4. Does it say something about the wider market, or give a glimpse into your performance? Financial results stories usually do well, because, well, people are nosey. And because if it looks as though you’re doing something right then other businesses will want to emulate your recipe for success.
#5. Is it surprising? Never underestimate the value of not being boring.
Finally, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that because a much larger business gets coverage for inconsequential nonsense, that you will.
If Tom Cruise eats two curries when he’s in Birmingham it’s all over the news. I very much doubt anybody but the waiter would care if I did the same thing, even though in my case it would be a vindaloo not a tikka masala and therefore, by any reasonable measure, a greater achievement.
Life’s not fair. And nor is the news.