What Headline Do You Want to See?

What Headline Do You Want to See?

You think you are sitting on some exciting news. It’s a great feeling, right?

But are you really?

News is a very subjective subject. Just ask a journalist or a veteran in PR. They will look at your news with unique filters. To begin with, you will hear them ask “Why?”  “What’s the impact?” “Is this a surprise or part of a moving trend?”  We often use the “man bites dog” example to explain why we are digging into your story idea. You know that old saw…a story isn’t interesting if it’s the common one about a dog biting a man. But if the man bites the dog, we should talk! This is considered the “surprise factor.”

But news filters are more than just the unusual. A good PR counselor can help formulate a story. We look at some interesting facets:

  • Do you have a unique perspective or new bit to share?
    • Working with your team, can you articulate how your news is different than any of your competitors? Can you show it visually? Can you demonstrate its unique qualities?
  • Does it add to a trend?
    • Is there a story happening that you have an interesting or unique perspective? Can you contradict the prevailing point of view or change the direction of the conversation?
  • Does your story solve a problem?
    • There’s no getting by a tried and true axiom: Problem-solution-results stories help sell products and services.
  • Is the importance of your story easily understood?
    • Is it relatable to your audience? Does it impact your audience significantly? An example of this is a new product or service that answer an industry problem.
    • Can you answer why this story is important to your audience?
  •  Is it timely?
    • Is the news happening in a specific time frame? That time frame is flexible. For example, if you are working with a magazine, you may have a month or two, but if you are working with a popular online site, it may be hours.
    • Can you provide fresh details or a fresh perspective?
  • Is it informative?
    • Can you put the story elements in a simple statement? Is the message clearly articulated?
  • Does the news demonstrate a common theme?
    • Similar to the focus on trends, story elements that can add new information to a story or discussion are worth exploring. If not for a standalone news story, maybe an interesting interview “pitch.”
  • Does the story counter expectations?
    • This aspect parallels the surprise factor. Do you have a point of view that is opposite the prevailing story line? This facet can add a tinge of drama to a typical business news story.

Bottom line, when we look for stories to pitch to target media, we are looking for impact, timeliness, new insights into common interests and trends. But one of the most important things we all consider: would this story spark conversation around the water cooler? If so, let me ask one last question: What headline would you like to see?