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So what makes news?

Published on 02/10/15

One very key point to bear in mind when considering how the media works, is that journalists are looking for stories which are of relevance and/or interest to their readers/listeners/ viewers. The job of a journalist is not to give your business a free plug – that’s what they advertising departments are for – but to report on items of genuine interest.

If you can help make a journalist’s job a little easier by supplying a steady stream, although not swamping them, of interesting news stories you will become very popular with them.

The most effective way to achieve media coverage is to supply the media with an interesting story, ideally written in a way which requires little or no working on. Journalists are very busy people who are generally struggling to fill their columns with fewer and fewer resources.

Offering them a press release which contains an interesting story and in a way which means they don’t even have to re-write it is manor from heaven for them.

In our experience, identifying what makes a story is by far and away the most difficult hurdletoclearwhen tryingto handle mediarelationson a DIYbasis.

Remember the golden rule that a press release must be newsworthy – it needs to be either relevant or interesting (preferably both) to the paper’s readership.

So what makes a story? For the purposes of this document we are focusing on three main themes:

  1. An actual occurrence/development within your organisation. This could include: a large contract won, a move to larger premises, launch of a new product/service, recruitment of extra staff, an award or accolade for a member of staff.
  2. Responding to a topical or national issue: this type of story has great potential but is generally under-used. While a subject is in the public eye, publications are always looking for a fresh or local slant on the story – so make sure it’s you who gives it to them. Look out for television documentaries or national newspaper stories on subjects related to your organisation or the services you provide. Another good source of potential stories is the plethora of ‘national day of this’ or ‘national week of that’. The key with responding to a topical issue is a rapid response. It’s no good offering your slant on the story three weeks after the initial story appears.
  3. A ‘created’ story: this involves initiating a story, primarily with the purpose of achieving media coverage. Creative use of this category can help ensure a steady stream of stories at a time when ‘actual’ stories dry up.

Below are three example press releases covering the three areas outlined above

Example Press release 1: Top training award ensures Bow site safety

THE company behind an award-winning Bow development has itself picked up a top accolade for its commitment to staff training and health and safety.

Lovell is developing Heart of Bow on the junction of Tredegar Road and Parnell Road, which is a mix of one, two and three-bedroom apartments and two and three-bedroom houses being built as part of a major regeneration project.

The developer beat off competition from across the south-east to scoop top specialist contractor in the annual awards presided over by The Construction Health & Safety Group (CHSG).

CHSG was formed in 1952 and has more than 500 members. Its annual awards aim to encourage and recognise outstanding training achievements and the pursuit of the highest safety standards.

The judges said: “Lovell whole-heartedly deserves this award. The company’s commitment over the years to health and safety training has been gratifying to observe and should be recognised and applauded by the industry. The resources and effort Lovell has expanded as a company in the pursuit of the highest safety standards are a shining example of what can be achieved.”

The award comes hot on the heels of Heart of Bow winning Best Metropolitan Development in the Hot Property magazine annual awards.

Lovell Regional Business Systems Manager, Alex Wood, said: “It is always gratifying to be recognised in this way for effort put into staff training because such commitment is not something which is always easy to assess the success of. You know it’s worthwhile but nonetheless it is very pleasing when someone highlights it in this way.”


Example Press release 2: Youngsters learn the art of a healthy breakfast

PRIMARY school children will this week be visiting a Needham Market farm-shop and tearoom to help prepare their own breakfast.

The youngsters from Creeting St Mary School have been invited down to Alder Carr Farm on Wednesday (Jan 28) as part of the national Farmhouse Breakfast Week (January 25-31).

Farmhouse Breakfast Week is an annual campaign that emphasises the importance of eating a healthy breakfast every day. ‘Think Breakfast’ is the theme of this year’s celebration to encourage everyone to wake up to breakfast as part of a healthy balanced diet and active lifestyle. Nutritionists agree that a healthy breakfast is essential for starting the day.

Alder Carr Farm joint-owner, Nick Hardingham, said: “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and it is particularly important for children to start the day with a good breakfast.

One of the beauties of breakfast, and one of the things we are trying to stress with this school visit, is the versatility of breakfast. You can make it as simple or grand as you like. Even if you’re pushed for time, and most of us are first thing in the morning, it is very easy to put together a quick but nutritious breakfast.”

The youngsters will be presented with a wide choice of breakfast items and invited to prepare a nutritious breakfast from the ingredients, before sitting down to tuck in.

The family-run Alder Carr Farm grows more than 25 fruits and vegetables on the 50-acre farm throughout the year. Fresh fruit and veg is just one element of a wide range of top quality, mainly locally produced food and drink available at the farm-shop.

During Farmhouse Breakfast Week, the tearoom will be offering a special breakfast menu including farm-made croissants with local bacon and free-range scrambled egg.

Here are a few interesting breakfast facts:

The word breakfast literally means ‘breaking the fast’. Overnight our energy stores are used up, so eating breakfast will top up the energy that has been used whilst sleeping and give us the energy needed to start the day.

The ‘traditional’ breakfast staples such as cereal and toast remain the most popular choices in the mornings. Most households have four different types of breakfast cereal in the kitchen cupboard.

The world’s first breakfast cereal was created in 1863 and comprised of dense bran nuggets that had to be soaked overnight in order to be chewable.

Research done by the Cardiff University School of Psychology, led by Professor Andrew Smith has shown that eating breakfast helps children function better in school than those who skip the first meal of the day. The results revealed children who start the day with cereal are:

  • 9 percent more alert
  • 11 percent less emotionally distressed
  • 13 percent less tired
  • 17 percent less anxious
  • 10 percent less likely to suer memory and attention span diculties, than those that have no breakfast
  • 33 percent less likely to suer from stomach complaints. Ends

Example Press release 3: Transport links more important than good schools say house-movers

CLOSENESS to the road-rail network is more important than being close to good schools and the newly introduce Home Information Packs will make the house-moving process more complicated.

These are just some of the conclusions drawn from a survey conducted by leading independent estate agency, Boydens which has oces in Colchester, Braintree, Sudbury, Frinton and Kelvedon.

Managing Partner David Boyden said: “People’s views change with the times so it is vitally important we constantly listen to what people say when looking for a new home. It is only by engaging in this sort of communication that we can ensure the services we provide are beneficial to our clients. Some of the results from the survey have confirmed long-held views but we have been surprised by other findings.”

The long-held belief that good schools are a key attraction when considering the ideal location of a home may have fallen victim to the country’s increasing transport problems. Nearly 50 per cent of people said close proximity to the road/rail network was their number one priority, followed by 40 per cent for good schools, 11 per cent said shops and just four per cent said leisure facilities.

The much heralded Home Information Pack clearly does not seem to have inspired people’s confidence, with just eight per cent thinking it will make the moving process easier, whilst 62 per cent felt it would further complicate the process.

When it comes to which room in the house is most likely to influence the buying decision, the kitchen still reigns supreme, notching 78 per cent of the vote, with the lounge second with 22 per cent.

Garden size clearly does matter with 65 per cent wanting one as big as possible, whilst just 23 per cent weren’t bothered about the size.

Mr Boyden added: “The results of our survey make very interesting reading and I would like to say a big thank-you to everyone who took the time to participate.”

Mrs Sue Clark from Colchester was the lucky winner of £50 worth of Marks & Spencer vouchers after being first out of the hat in the free draw to which everyone who filled in a questionnaire was eligible.


If you need further advice on your media handling activities get in touch with Patrick Lowman PR on 07792 428555.