If you’ve been listening to me for some time, you know I advise that sending press releases out at the end of the week, when you aren’t fighting for as much attention from others.
But what happens if something hits the news that blows your publicity plan out of the water?
That’s what happened to many would-be media coverage seekers when the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, died unexpectedly.
And many publicity seekers are confused why a story of this nature would even blanket their local news. To understand, let’s take a look at why such a story is newsworthy – even on a local level.
You see,the news decision makers, whether editors, producers or reporters use the following criteria to test if a potential story is good. Which ones do you think your story and the death of Michael Jackson have?
The word news means exactly that – things which are new. A story with only average interest needs to be told quickly if it is to be told at all. If it happened today, it’s news. If the same thing happened last week, it’s no longer interesting.
The number of people affected by the story is important. A plane crash in which hundreds of people died is more significant than a crash killing a dozen.
Stories which happen near to us have more significance. The closer the story to home, the more newsworthy it is. For someone living in France, a major plane crash in the USA has a similar news value to a small plane crash near Paris.
Proximity doesn’t have to mean geographical distance. Stories from countries with which we have a particular bond or similarity have the same effect. For example, Australians would be expected to relate more to a story from a distant Western nation than a story from a much closer Asian country.
Famous people get more coverage just because they are famous. If you break your arm it won’t make the news, but if the Queen of England breaks her arm it’s big news.
Human interest stories are a bit of a special case. They often disregard the main rules of newsworthiness; for example, they don’t date as quickly, they need not affect a large number of people, and it may not matter where in the world the story takes place.
But what human interest stories do is appeal to emotion. They aim to evoke responses such as amusement or sadness.
In the news business, there are no guarantees. Sometimes you just won’t get the media coverage you think you deserve at the time you want it.
Just ask the other MJ – Michael Jordan. His retirement was the first ‘big story’ of the day on September 11, 2001.