Secret #1: Not Everything You Do is Newsworthy.

When you own your own company, it’s hard not to think everything your company does is newsworthy and exciting. It’s just like the new parents, who are constantly sharing pics of their babies. It may be exciting for them, their family and friends to see, but when it comes to the rest of the world, is it the most exciting thing?

It’s important to realize what is newsworthy and what is not because we want to spare you the “bad pitch” to a media reporter. The more you pitch reporters a bad story, the higher the probability that they will blacklist you by blocking your email from their inbox. Clearly, not a good thing, as you’ll hardly get media coverage that way.

Be Honest With Yourself And Be Useful

We work with startup or corporate clients who are constantly trying to get us to put out press releases about things that are simply NOT newsworthy. It has given us the insight that founders sometimes have a skewed view of what is newsworthy to both reporters and the general public. It’s not unreasonable or embarrassing to have a skewed view, as it can be hard to separate yourself from your business enough to take a look at it from afar. It’s not easy to be objective as to what the rest of the world might be interested in truly learning about.

All of us know, deep down, what is interesting. It just takes some distance and perspective to realize that announcing something that happened a month ago or a story about a minute inconsequential update to our new application is not just news nor interesting.

Reporters and bloggers are looking for compelling and novel things for their readers to learn. If you can be useful and give them a story involving your company that will help their readers be better or learn something, then that’s a newsworthy story.

The Stranger Test

The most important test we use to determine if something is newsworthy is the stranger test. If you explained your potential newsworthy event, update or story to a total stranger sitting next to you at a cafe, what would happen. It may seem simplistic, but there are countless founders that don’t apply this simple test. Our goal is to find something, educate, and/or enlighten the reader. Think how your story can be useful to your nameless cafe companion.

For those of you who still need a little more clarity on newsworthiness, consider what is NOT newsworthy:

  • You had a meeting with someone
  • You are attending a conference or event
  • Announcing something that has already happened
  • New hires unless they are high profile executives or someone like Mark Zuckerberg
  • Boring contests

If you can’t remove yourself and your opinions from the equation (and please be honest about this!), then ask 2-3 other people in your inner circle that you feel certain will give you their honest opinion. Please don’t ask your mom or grandma. Both will most likely think that whatever their wunderkind comes up with is fantastic.

Make Your Own News

The good news is that if you’re craving for some PR, and you can’t find a single thing that is truly newsworthy, you can still make your own news by creating it. Yeah, I know, sounds shady and all CIA covert affairs, but it’s really not because you will have to put in some creative legwork to develop this “newsworthy story.” And you can be rest assured your creation will include things that reporters want to cover.  Some ideas include:

  • Throw an event
  • Release a new or revised product or service that makes some sort of notable impact
  • Donate or support a charity in a creative way
  • Come up with a clever social media campaign to go viral

As we keep stressing, reporters really want to cover your company if your story is interesting and relevant. Make it easy for them to cover you by having materials readily available to make their job easier. For example, have an updated press kit and really good presence on search engines like Google. More on that later.

Stumbled Upon This?

This post is part of a 7 part series titled 7 PR Secrets Every Founder Should Know But Are Not Told. If you stumbled upon this searching the innerwebs, please join us for the full series. I would really appreciate it.