Marketing & Communications Centre > Marketing Essentials > Help Sheets > Knowing When What you do is News

Knowing When What you do is News

The help sheet Generating Interest in Your Activities looks at how your group could attract the media's attention to help gain publicity.

Included in that help sheet will be a comprehensive list of ways your group or organisation could present a story to make it more appealing to the media.

The good news is that many of those elements can also be used as a handy reference list when it comes to your grouprecognising when what it is doing is news.

Getting it right when it comes to knowing when to contact the media is important for your group. If your group develops a reputation as one which only contacts the media when they do have something newsworthy going on - and not just at the drop of a hat – then the media are more likely to take your group and what it is saying seriously.

"Stepping Outside your Group" to Know When What you are Doing is News

Knowing when what you are doing is news can be challenging.

What your group might think is a big story and what the media thinks is worth a mention might be two entirely different things. This is because your group and the media will look at the issue in question from different perspectives.

For example – your group might spend two hours of its annual general meeting debating and then voting on amendments to its constitution or guiding principles. That might be pretty big news for the internal workings of your group, but the media are unlikely to be interested in it as a story.

However, if late at the same meeting your group reveals tentative plans for early steps of a project that could end up positively impacting on the lives of many, the media are more than likely going to jump at the chance of covering the issue.

This example shows the importance of being able to "step outside" your group and being able to look at what is happening from an "outside" perspective – in this case, the media's perspective.

Your group needs to know how the media would look at an item, and whether they would view it as newsworthy. This ability is honed with practice and experience, but should be something your media spokesperson or members of your media team are comfortable developing.

Elements that Make Something Into News

Listed below are many of the elements that can turn something your group is doing into news.

This list is drawn from the help sheet Generating Interest in Your Activities, which is also available at the Media & Marketing Centre of the Our Community website. For more information, refer to that help sheet.

Your possible story should be novel, look novel or have a novel hook for the media. That hook can vary depending on if it is TV, radio, on-line or published media you are working with.

"New Stuff"
The media love covering new things, and "new" can come in many forms. For example:
  • New data or information – research or study results.
  • New people – a new CEO or head of your group or a new group or board member that is crucial to your success.
  • New project
People and the media like new stuff, but they like familiarity as well. Not only that, but people like new things but within a context of things they already know about.

Hitch a ride on what's currently news
One way many groups often get "their news" to become "the news" is to piggyback on an existing story.

Linking your news with a wider issue already deemed newsworthy can publicise your own organisation and work. A common way of doing this is to comment on government policy – or the policy of a relevant peak body or over-arching association.

Hitch a ride on trends
Another idea is to show how your story idea is relevant to wider developments in the region/state/country/culture – and how well your organisation fits in with these trends.

Interest levels
Your group could look to publicise its information through appealing to different types of interest – or to different interest levels. For example:
  • Local interest – particularly important to suburban and regional media outlets, but also a big factor in coverage levels for state or national media newspapers. Your group can tweak its story to make it appealing across a number of levels.
  • Specialist interest – it can be useful to target a certain section of the media with news that is particularly relevant to them.
  • Human interest – people like reading about other people, and if your group can highlight the human interest in the information you have, the media will more than likely respond positively.
Information and advice
Relevant general information and good advice can often mean a story "gets a run" in the media. For example, fire warnings are sometimes not the most exciting pieces of information going around, but in summer – and in bushfire-prone areas – they always get a run on the news because the information and advice is important.

How-To guides
Depending on how specialised your organisation is, you may have material that can fill a column or semi-regular contributor's slot in a newspaper or magazine as an advice column or how-to guide.

Watching Others to Find out What's News

Another useful way of learning more about what is and isn't news is to look at other groups and the stories they get into the media.

Look for any common threads in these stories that seem to be ensuring them a good run in the media, and then emphasise these elements in any stories you might have.

This means that you might have to re-focus the emphasis of your stories – possibly localise them more, develop more "people stories" or target certain sections of the media better.

This sort of job is one your media spokesperson or media team can undertake – for more information on media spokespeople and teams, refer to the Media & Marketing help sheets: Building a Media Team, Selecting a Spokesperson and Using and Supporting a Spokesperson.

The information contained on this site is subject to change. Our Community will not be liable for any loss or damage whatsoever coming from reliance placed on all or part of its contents.