A Checklist: Is This News?

PR is playing an increasingly larger role in the marketing mix. But how do you create news? This checklist will guide you.

| Presscloud editorial

Create News as a Company

How do you ensure that you are seen as an authority in the market and get found more often by other companies? By getting the media to report about your organization. This (free!) editorial attention not only makes you more famous – but also a more credible partner. It lowers the cost of recruiting new staff, makes fake news less effective, and may cause journalists to call you more often for explanation.

Why should you opt for PR? For example, to stand out more to candidates. Or because you want to strengthen your thought leadership position. You want to become a leading knowledge partner in your sector. Or you simply want to become more familiar to new employees or clients. Yet, for many companies, it is a challenge to get started on shaping a PR strategy. The first challenge: determining what is newsworthy or about which topics to communicate. This checklist offers a solution.

A Checklist: Is This News?

The challenge is to investigate which themes journalists find interesting but also match your organization. Journalists have a different interest than you do. So remember that you cannot entice them with a story about how great your organization is, but you can entice them with distinctive news facts, knowledge, or insights.

What is news? This checklist will help you. Is your idea something…

  • That deviates from the norm?
  • That isn't commercial?
  • That addresses a problem?
  • That has an impact on the Netherlands or a certain industry?
  • That resonates with the reader?
  • That readers will click on?
  • That plays into the spirit of the times – for instance, responding to something you see in the news?

The Checklist for News

Does it deviate from the norm?

Rob Wijnberg, founder of the journalistic platform De Correspondent, stated that if you read the newspapers diligently, you know exactly what is not happening in the world. That's because only the unusual is news. News is often 'shareable': so exciting that you’d tell your neighbor or roommate about it when you get home.

A fire, murder, attack, breakthrough, revolution, or Dutch success abroad is out of the ordinary and therefore is news. A company that lets its employees work in Bali for three months is newsworthy because it's unusual. A startup that promises to let you speak every language in the world is likewise exciting and unique.

Is it non-commercial?

Journalists have a mission: to inform their readers about what is happening in the world. Therefore, it is not: telling their readers how good your company, colleagues, or solutions are. A story is only newsworthy if it is non-commercial.

The biggest frustration for journalists? Marketers who write commercial junk and try to sell it as editorial content. They are invariably referred to the advertising department.

Does it address a problem?

Murder and fire sell the newspaper. And in the digital realm, negative stories do better than positive ones. Good news is no news. This is primarily because problems are more urgent and therefore found more newsworthy by journalists. But also, because scandals provoke more emotions and are therefore shared more often – increasing the traffic to news platforms.

A stunt to draw attention to hearing problems deserves attention, if it turns out that hearing problems are becoming more urgent. A startup that compares real estate agents gets media attention if the company explains how serious the quality difference between agents is.

Does it impact the Netherlands or a specific industry?

News is urgent if it has an impact. If a company discovers that SMEs are incurring too much overseas import and export costs, that is urgent for the backbone of our economy. Addressing (or even solving) this problem has an impact on the economic competitive position of the Netherlands.

In the end, it always revolves around an answer to the question: so what? If you can answer this question convincingly, the chances are high that you have news on your hands.

Will people click on this?

Journalists and companies share a common interest: they are looking for the attention of the general public. Journalists function as gatekeepers and only select content that they expect will resonate with their audience, is accurate, and has the potential to be shared. Whether news can go viral has become increasingly urgent as traffic is more often coming from social channels than from homepages.

So, ask yourself: would people click on this? Content that appeals to emotions and needs, rather than just providing information, is often shared. From cat videos to the most beautiful houses on Funda: your timeline is often a good barometer of what works and what doesn’t. Also, a top ten list of the best investments in the Amsterdam housing market is provocative to the reader.

Does it capitalize on current events or the zeitgeist?

News often relates to other news. It's sometimes an inexplicable phenomenon how certain subjects float to the top (diversity or climate) and others do not (the EU or biodiversity). By tapping into prevailing sentiments, the spirit of the times, or current events, you can make news.

In proper jargon, we call this 'piggybacking': using an existing news event (King's Day, Ajax in the Champions League, Budget Day, or protests) to highlight your own content. During the Pokemon Go craze, you could philosophize about the future of VR and AR – and predict that this app is just the beginning of the rise of this technology.

In conclusion: follow the news

I hope this checklist helps you determine if you have news on your hands. If you want more inspiration, I recommend that you read a trade magazine or newspaper. If you find similar news in relevant media for you, the chances are very high that you have news. Past results are indeed a predictor of future success.

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