Don't stand out - blend in

Richard SlaterSo many things that ‘just happen’ in your business are newsworthy; you just haven’t realised it.

The simple stuff like appointing new staff, winning new contracts, moving premises or achieving a qualification – they’re all valid as news items, as a flick through the pages of this magazine, a local paper or a trade title will demonstrate.

And if we agree that it’s generally a good thing when positive news about your business is published then it’s time to get positive news written and distributed.

If you’ve ever been to a seminar about PR, then it’s usually at about this point that you’ll be told: “The media gets hundreds of news releases every day – the key is to stand out and be noticed.”

That’s the problem with assumptions – leave them unchallenged and they fester into accepted wisdom.

Actually, the first part of the statement is right; it’s the latter element I take issue with. Yes, news organisations receive way too many releases to deal with. But the route to being published is the opposite to normal advice.

Simply put – don’t stand out, blend in.

And here’s why – news is almost always presented to the reader in the same tight structure:
• News is written in short sentences
• News is the opposite of a joke – the punchline comes first
• News always involves people and quotes
• News always rushes in the Who, What,Why, Where and When elements of a story – often in the first two sentences.

These simple rules apply for local press, business press, broadsheets, tabloids, trade titles and online news sources.

It’s how they are written by hurried, underresourced newsrooms.

You want your story published? Make a journalist’s life easy and write in their style.

Richard Slater, managing director, Slater PR.