How do stories make it into the news?
Successful news stories have one thing in common – they capture attention. Whether it’s a good-feeling piece or a tragic disaster, news stories need to offer something unexpected to readers, viewers and listeners. The more unexpected a story the more newsworthy it is.
If you’re putting together a story to send to the media, it’s important to think about your target audience. Only distribute to the media that covers your audience and check that you are sending it to the right person there. A political reporter will not want to hear about The World’s Largest Pork Pie but the food and drink columnist might.
Media outlets are receiving story after story all through the day and there’s only space for a few to be included.
Pitching is essential, but sometimes even with an amazing pitch, your story still won’t make the cut.
Here are some ways stories are more likely to get coverage.
How big is your story?
Stories that apply to a large number of people, or affect a large section of the population will have more of an appeal across multiple media titles.
Does it include someone with authority or influence?
Comments from an expert or someone that the audience trusts will give the piece more credibility. Celebrities, politicians, royalty and public services getting involved in a story will make it feel more genuine.
Is it entertaining?
If the story makes people laugh then they are more likely to want to share that good feeling with others. People love to hear about anything that will break the monotony of their everyday lives.
Will it make people feel sad or really great?
Bad news can often get more coverage than good news, especially if someone is to blame. But good news will also flourish when there is a clear hero.
Will it shock or surprise people?
If a headline or statistic takes people by surprise then it is more likely to be shared around.
It’s also important to remember TRUTH. Not just telling the truth (although that is essential), the anagram.
T imely and topical – is it happening right now? Has it just been revealed and is it the first time the audience is hearing about it?
R elevent – does it fit with the media type? Is it something that people will be interested in hearing about?
U nique and unusual – does it stand out from the crowd? Is the story completely new or does it provide a new twist on a current topic?
T ension – does it include trouble, tragedy or triumph? Remember triumph over tragedy (TOT) makes fantastic news.
H uman interest – does it feel real? Can people relate to the story and those involved?
Even stories that tick many of the boxes above may still not be chosen. Often it just depends on what is happening at that time – perhaps there’s a big news incident that needs to be covered or maybe just a more favourable story on that day.
If a journalist likes your piece, they will often keep your details for future communication and you could get coverage for another story at a more suitable time.