Keep in Mind the Seven News Values

As a former reporter, there are certain aspects to the public relations and news process that I sometimes inadvertently take advantage of – things I learned in journalism school or on the reporting beat that many PR practitioners or clients may not even be aware of. Looking back, I think one of the simplest, yet easiest-to-ignore principles are the seven news values – aspects of a story that make it newsworthy.

Whether you’re debating on whether a client story is worth publicizing or working up that perfect pitch to a reporter or editor, remembering these seven principles will always help you understand the newsworthiness (or lack thereof) of your story and in what way you should tell it.

Not familiar with the seven news values? You can find a brief overview below:

Timeliness – Recent stories are always more newsworthy than events that happened further in the past. When you have a major event coming up or you’re reacting to a recent happening, it’s always important to get the story out of there as soon as possible so that you don’t risk it becoming “old news.”
Impact – How many people’s lives are affected by this news? The more people impacted, the more newsworthy the story is.
Proximity – Stories involving the specific locale where it is being told are always going to be more newsworthy than those involving an area further away. For example, a story taking place here in Richmond is going to be more noteworthy to the Richmond audience than a similar story occurring in New York or Oklahoma City or anywhere else.
Prominence – People or brands who have a larger awareness or following by the general public are always going to be more newsworthy.
Relevance – Issues or topics that are top-of-mind tend to be more newsworthy. This can occasionally go hand-in-hand with timeliness, but it’s important to keep trends and other popular things in mind when telling a story.
Oddity – Particularly strange or out-of-the-ordinary stories are always going to be alluring to the general public. For example, Uber recently put out its annual lost and found index of both common and strange things left in Ubers over the last year, including oddities like six 7/11 chicken tenders and a set of 24k gold teeth.
Conflict – Disagreements among various parties nearly always catch the public’s attention, whether that’s strife in the Middle East or the latest celebrity feud. Conflict is one of the strongest of the seven values.

Before you jump down my throat, I’ve seen some variation in different parties’ news values, but the general ideas are always the same. So, next time you’re thinking of reaching out to that reporter or promising a client news pickup, remember the seven news values. Without them, your story is likely to fall on deaf ears (and by deaf, I mean none – your story will likely die in an editor’s inbox).

 

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