What DOES make a news story

Posted on: 2012-06-13 in How To   |   Tagged: b2b pr media release newsworthy press release

Good news stories might be hard to identify, but everyone has one, argues Heather Baker, MD of TopLine Communications. (@TopLineFounder)

If award wins, new offices and an SME’s Q1 results are considered non-stories, you are probably wondering what makes a story. Unfortunately, the components of a good story can’t be condensed into a checklist (if they could then no one would need PR people). However, when developing a PR strategy for any client, we always start with a brief from them covering everything there is to know about their business. During this brainstorming session, I am looking for:

Timing and Topicality

Timing is not everything. But on a scale of one-to-everything, it would certainly be a lot of things. It’s fair to say that in many instances, yesterday’s non-story can be tomorrow’s front page headline. So as far as choosing when to release your news, you’d do well to consider big events that will prime the media by getting journalists thinking about the subject in general – they’ll be much more receptive to your news. For example, if you were trying to promote an app that priests could use to marry gay couples, then yesterday would have been a good day to release the story.

Stats and data

I’ve covered the media appetite for stats in previous posts, and I stand by the fact that strong, unique, representative and interesting data will always be good fodder for news journalists.


I have a pretty eccentric family (I can prove that with a story about cat-testicle-earrings), so I’m quite good at spotting the unconventional within clients' businesses. This is great, because the quirkier your story, the more likely it is to gain media interest. Obviously you need to balance your appetite for nuttiness with the brand image you are trying to portray, but if you’re prepared to, for example, launch your server into space, or break the Guinness World Record for the longest conga line of accountants, then you will probably be able to capture the imagination of at least some journalists.

Connections with celebrated names or brands

If your story links to a well known brand or celebrity name, then you’re probably likely to get a hit. For example, if a business school had Rupert Murdoch in giving a guest lecture on corporate social responsibility, I’m willing to bet that would hit the headlines.

Impact on readers

If the journalist thinks your story speaks to his/her audience, then you’re in a good position. For example, if you’ve commissioned a report on public sector spending cuts that reveals that 25% of small businesses will go out of business as a result, you’ll probably find business editors banging down your door for an exclusive, because they know their readers will be horribly affected.

Now you might have read this post and concluded that your company just doesn’t have any newsworthy angles. However, even if it wasn’t in my professional and personal interests to do so, I would still disagree. I’ve worked with over 100 B2B companies to date, from packaging machinery to data centres and have yet to come across one that doesn’t have a good story to tell. Many try to tell the wrong story, and fail, but those who invest in quality PR are usually successful at gaining the media coverage they desire.

Browse our other posts on using press releases to gain coverage.

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About this blog

The B2B PR Blog is a resource for both PR professionals and people working in B2B industries on how to devise and implement successful B2B PR campaigns. The blog was founded by B2B PR specialist Heather Baker, who runs video production and corporate animation agency TopLine Film and digital PR and SEO agency  TopLine Comms. The B2B PR Blog takes contributions from sensible industry folk with something interesting to say.


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