How to Break News…and When to Apply the Brakes

Whitson, Journal News.”

“Jamie, it’s Phil, how you…”

“Phil, whataya got? On deadline. Can’t talk.”

“I’m following up a press release I sent late yest…”

“Yeah, got it. Not news. Call me when you have news.”

Ah, the life of a public relations neophyte, navigating the mine-filled corridors of our nation’s newsrooms…armed with more nerve than news sense. One of the first rules of thumb is knowing when information becomes news. And knowing that what’s news to one editor or publication is not news to another.

Sustaining a steady drumbeat of company communications is an important–indeed indispensable–part of raising broad awareness. But if your goal is to spark editorial interest that leads to a story, you need to be selective in discerning what is truly newsworthy. You are not only competing for an editor’s attention; your success going forward depends on your public relations representative’s credibility as a reliable news source. Political

On any given day, editors are bombarded with hundreds of press releases and story queries (i.e., pitches) that vie for their attention. Ultimately, your press release or query will either be lost in the daily avalanche of e-mails or land a coveted spot on a publication’s editorial calendar as the focus of a feature story, the subject of a product review, or with a company representative slated as an expert source to be interviewed.

But how exactly do you get editors to sit up and take notice of your message? You need to put the “news” in news release by providing editors with timely and targeted information that they can rely on to fulfill their obligation to their readership to deliver relevant and practical articles that help them succeed.

But, on the other hand, not all press releases are newsworthy–consider the release that announces the appointment of a key individual in a company. In all likelihood, the announcement will be relegated to the back pages of a publication with other similar items.

So why bother sending it out? Because you have to keep your eye on the big picture. Press releases serve as a way to boost company recognition among your target audience–editors. You need to build and maintain awareness of your company and its products and/or services. In other words, make sure that the media knows that you’re a “player.” Consistent communications is the building block of every public relations campaign. As we illustrated earlier, you need to apply the brakes and resist the urge to call the editor to see if he or she received your “announcement.”

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