Make your news releases newsworthy (and shareworthy)

I think the secret to making a news release newsworthy is to focus on the aspect(s) of your announcement that people will care about most and not on those that are perhaps more important to the entity releasing the news.

Here’s an example. Let’s say you work at a hospital whose foundation just received a major grant from a wealthy individual. The funds will enable the hospital to hire 50 more doctors and fund research into finding a cure for a specific disease. Do you focus the lead sentence of your news release on:

1) Stroking the ego of the generous patron who donated the funds?
2) The hospital expanding its staff by 50?
3) The research that will find a cure for the disease?

Many institutions would choose #1. Some might choose #2. But the real news, the news that will impact the most people, is #3.

The research that will ultimately lead to a cure is the most news worthy aspect of this announcement. The possible cure is what the news media and the public will care most about, and what readers will most likely want to share with others.

Too often internal politics or a lack of news experience get in the way of PR pros from writing news releases that are actually newsworthy. They forget about to write their news releases from the viewpoint of the public and instead write from the viewpoint of their organization’s senior management (who probably lack any sort of news experience).

Here’s another example. Your household goods manufacturing company has just signed an agreement to merge with its largest competitor. The merger will mean the company will have a new name, headquarters city, CEO and logo. There will not be any layoffs and corporate giving will increase. Its operating efficiencies will increase, which will lead to both a jump in profits and lower product prices.

Do you focus the lead sentence of your news release about the merger on:

1) The new name?
2) The new logo?
3) The new headquarters site?
4) The increase in corporate giving?
5) The fact layoffs won’t occur?
6) The increase in operating efficiencies and profits?
7) The lower product prices?

This is a tougher one. The marketing and advertising industries will care about #1 and 2. The mayor and news media in the new headquarters city will care about #3. The nonprofit community will care about #4. The internal audience (i.e. employees) will care about #5. The investment community will care about #5. But if you think about the general public, the most important facet of this announcement will be #6.

The lower product prices will impact the average household much more than the new name of the company and logo on the product packaging or the location of the headquarters.

Yet, I bet most announcements of this type don’t consider the impact of the merger on the public. Instead, they focus on details that are most important to the companies involved and their shareholders.

When writing a news release, ask yourself the following questions:

1) If my neighbor, mother or child’s babysitter were reading this news release, would they understand what I’m writing about?
2) Would they (and a news editor) really care about what I’m announcing?
3) Am I focusing the release on details that are only important to those inside my company?
4) Am I explaining why this news will better the reader’s life and/or impact their community in a positive way?

If you can’t answer those four questions, go back and re-write your news release. Because, in the end, you’re really writing your news for the public (the readers) and not your supervisor. So always keep their viewpoint top of mind. You’ll find they’ll want to read — and share — your news.

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One response to “Make your news releases newsworthy (and shareworthy)”

  1. Dan Avatar

    Great piece and very solid points

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