What is News?

What may be the more appropriate question is: What makes a story newsworthy enough to get picked up by the media? Here are a few rules of thumb to determine if you have a news angle worthy of press coverage.

First, is the subject relevant to anyone outside of your organization? For example, if your firm is announcing changes to the employee health plan, that's newsworthy of coverage in the company newsletter but not typically for the mainstream press.

Timeliness is also a factor. No one wants to hear about something that happened a year ago, or even a month ago. Reporters want fresh ideas and breaking news.

Generally, the media won't cover the same story twice. If your company has already received coverage for a particular event, subject or product, the media won't write about it again ? unless there's a whole new angle to explore. If there's a new twist to the story, a new development, a trend emerging as a result of the original story, new facts, findings, or product enhancements, then it may be news all over again.

If, using these general guidelines, you're pretty sure you have news to share, there's still the possibility that it won't get picked up. Don't get discouraged. Instead, become diligent about reading the publication(s) where you'd like to get coverage to get a feel for the types of stories covered and what different reporters are writing about. You'll be better positioned so that the next time you have a story idea to share, you'll know who to contact, and that the "news" meets the publication's needs.

Sally Saville Hodge is president of Hodge Communications, Inc. (http://www.hodgecommunications.com), a strategic PR and marketing communications firm in Chicago. She can be reached at shodge@hodgecommunications.com.

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