A frequent question I get from librarians is how to determine which events would make a good news story. I always suggest that people “think like an editor” to determine whether it is newsworthy. Editors usually look at five criteria to decide whether they will run a story: timing, significance, proximity, prominence and human interest. While your story probably won’t have all of them, at least two should be applicable.
This is where the whole concept of “News” comes from… is your story new or is there new information that the readers will want to know about? Something may be very interesting today but tomorrow it is yesterday’s news and papers won’t want to run it.
How many people will this story affect? If you are trying to get coverage for an event that you know will attract a large number of readers, make sure you tell the reporters. Remember too, if you already have a full house, a call to the reporter to tell them how big the event is may encourage them to come and get you some post coverage.
Newspapers run stories that are relevant to their readers. For libraries that means you should submit stories to newspapers whose readers are likely to come to your event. This is especially relevant if you are trying to get coverage in a weekly newspaper. Make the connection for the paper by listing the town where you are located or where the subject resides.
Famous people get more coverage just because they are famous. If a Congressman, Senator, Mayor, famous actor is coming—make sure the reporter knows!
5. Human Interest
Human interest stories can override the above criteria because they appeal to emotions rather than news. A good human interest story will help readers relate emotionally to a story. Look at your local newspaper and see what the hot topics are and try to see if your story fits with that theme.
Oh and don’t forget… if you are a New Jersey Librarian the State Library has set up a page where you can post your press releases directly to our pages. This addition to our website is intended to help all libraries reach a greater audience. The pages have RSS feed and will offer reporters and the public to ability to find out about activities occurring at our NJ libraries in one location.
It is easy to do just go to http://www.njstatelib.org/LDB/LibNetNews/ click on “add your organization’s news” . You’ll be asked to enter the headline, expiration date and then cut and paste your news article. The release will be posted to our website. If you have a question or comment, please contact: NJSL Director of Marketing Nancy Dowd at firstname.lastname@example.org or 609-777-4509. Have fun!