Before making the decision to hire a PR firm, or starting your own campaign, it is vital that you understand the nature of news. Luckily, it’s not rocket science.
There are only two ways to make news: create a story, or follow a story.
Understanding the difference between the two is critical knowledge for anyone wanting to understand, execute and exploit the power of public relations. It is definitely essential reading before making promises to your client or boss when they demand that you “get me on the front page of the New York Times!”
Getting a story in a publication just because you want it there, or your boss demands it, doesn’t actually carry much meaning. After all, journalists, speakers, bloggers, and other media influencers are not stenographers. They are guaranteed to ask: “what’s in it for me, and my audience?” As a budding PR pro, it is vital that you consider what your perspective would be was it you on the receiving end.
Answer this: What’s the story? Why should I, or anyone else, care? And why should they care now? There are further criteria that you need to consider: is it new? Is it unusual? Is there a human interest angle?
Once you’ve answered those questions, here are the two ways to make news:
Create a Story
This is the most common tool in the PR toolbox. It involves strategic storytelling and, most of the time, finding ways to promote something in a fresh way- be it a new car, a new market, or a new CEO. Methods of making news include bylined articles written for an independent publication, opinion editorials about a controversial topic in a way that relates to your brand, social media content marketing, and more.
Some firms will create their own events or speak in front of prestigious groups. These can be great opportunities, but can also be time consuming and expensive- with no guarantee of impactful coverage. Another tool is the use of surveys and original research. Depending on your budget, try a simple survey of peers, clients, and supplies to hunt out new information that might be newsworthy in trade media.
Follow a Story
When opportunity knocks, you answer. Following a story means noticing a story in the news, and responding accordingly. It could be a plunge in the stock market, political scandal, or the popularity of new technology. To complement breaking news, journalists typically need an expert to comment in real-time via a phone interview, video conference or live video interview. With some quick thinking, reaching out to journalists can lead to great new connections and media attention for your brand.
When the story isn’t immediate, businesses can choose to insert themselves into a trend. These usually include feature stories, in contrast to news happening on a 24-hour cycle. If consumers are turning to virtual reality (VR) in droves, for example, and your brand has adopted VR capabilities, you have a story on your hands.