Six Things That Make a Brand’s Story Newsworthy

As we see from the Kony 2012 phenomenon, how we share stories and information is changing with each tweet, "pin," "like" and YouTube post. The one constant is that content reigns supreme.

Newsworthy stories and ideas will always have an audience, but what is "newsworthy" may surprise, and, at times, confound you. Recognizing what others find newsworthy is the first step to better PR that can positively affect your business's goals, reputation, credibility, brand identity and bottom line. Who knows--your story could be the next Internet campaign garnering 70 million hits in only a few days!

To gauge how "newsworthy" your story is, ask yourself:

Is it interesting or important?

A lot of folks find the YouTube clip on Ninja Cats entertaining, but not important. A review of zoning codes may be important, but of little interest. The lesson here is that a combination of interesting and important is the best way to get and keep a story rolling. The colorfulness, prominence and status of characters, setting, statistics and trends (and often, the story behind the story) are factors as well.

What's the connection to your audience?

A story may be pertinent to you because it is localized to where you live. In other cases, it may impact you because of your interests; like if you subscribe to a travel magazine, every story relates back to travel in some way. The Kony 2012 campaign took a local issue and made it a world-wide issue. Finding how the story relates to your target audiences is a key point in any newsworthy story.

Is it timely?

The context in which an event occurs often determines whether a story is newsworthy; this means researching current news themes in play and how a story fits within those larger narratives. Kony 2012, for example, tied its cause to the U.S. elections, but the Kony 2012 phenomenon itself then became a story, as it exemplified the enormous (and growing) impact of social media. On the other hand, some of the best stories are "evergreens": they can be picked up at almost any time as feature pieces or parts of a series.

Is there tension?

A story pitch is strengthened when there is an arch with an introduction of a problem and eventual resolution. The more tension or conflict, the more newsworthy the story. Of course, that's not always a good thing (witness BP and the gulf oil spill, for example), but understanding this fact of PR life makes it possible to seek opportunities to tap into that create "tension" in a positive way (Dove's Self Esteem Fund, for example, responds proactively to women's self-image issues).

Does it have legs?

Think about a story's potential for follow-ups, new developments and spin-offs in the media or public. Just how “big" is this news and, specifically, how interesting or important is it to your target audience? While many stories have a natural life cycle, it can often times be extended through events or actions. For instance, a central ingredient in the case of Kony 2012 is motivating individuals to encourage celebrities or “culturemakers” and policymakers via social media to back their cause, thus ensuring another "bounce" each time those influencers discuss the campaign.

What's the angle?

In any newsworthy story, there may be many points of access or ways to look at it, but it is often where and how you place the emphasis that can often position it for success. Again, consider the Kony 2012 campaign and the many angles it uses to make the issue more newsworthy--it works on many levels.