How do you find news?

The right kind of news

Being a former journalist (who still monitors the news morning, noon and night), I would say that news is everywhere. But it might not be the right kind of news.

Let me explain. News, for me, is something happening that is new to your audience. As a reporter, I’d knock on doors, chat to people in cafes, go to meetings and talk to people. Not everything I was told would make a story or indeed could be reported.

And so it is the same with PR. It might be that some of the news you find isn’t particularly newsworthy or relevant to what you are trying to achieve in PR terms.

If for example you are an organisation such as a theatre, chances are PR will be about getting bums on seats. If you are a construction company, then it might be about a project you have won or completed.

If you are a professional services firm, a lawyer, then your public relations materials might be about your winning a particular case for your client, or advice on a certain aspect of commercial law that would be beneficial to potential clients.

It depends on what you are trying to portray and to whom.

This may sound quite simple. But you’d be surprised. I’ve been to a few PR pitched just recently and I am often told that a company’s PR isn’t hitting the mark for one reason or another.

One question I was asked was: “How do you go about getting the news out of people?”

And someone else said: “A press release was written that didn’t seem to tie in with what we are doing.”

In answer to the first question, everyone could tell you some snippet of news. Talk to people. Set up regular news-gathering meetings or PR clinics or some other form of reporting format.

Then filter through the stories and see which ones you can use and tie in with your overall PR campaign strategy.

And in answer to the second, if you’ve set up the process mentioned a moment ago, this should not happen. It does take strength and discipline to some extent, but also an education programme within your organisation so that people are switched on to what PR is all about.

It is also for your PR agency or PR consultant to advise you and use their experience and knowledge to provide answers.

Hope that helps in some way. Here are seven pointers to get the right kind of news for smart PR:

  1. 1 News can be everywhere, but it might not be the right kind. It has to be new
  2. 2 Talking is good – do it more often to everyone within your organisation
  3. 3 Organise regular meetings with your team to discuss what might make a press release
  4. 4 Filter through suggestions to make sure news adheres to your goals
  5. 5 Don’t be afraid to say a particular news item isn’t right
  6. 6 Don’t accept press releases that don’t mean anything
  7. 7 Think about whether your news can be delivered in a format other than a press release
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