Cunningly Good Guide to…. generating news coverage

Want to raise your profile via media relations, but not sure what makes news? Cunningly Good Group’s Head of Communications, Emma Davies, shares the seven key news values that determine whether a story is considered newsworthy

Public relations in the form of media relations is a fantastically cost-effective way of gaining profile for your company or organisation. Although it may appear straight forward enough, it is a true art form and one which requires some background understanding before leaping in.

The first essential step to even thinking about writing a press release, feature or opinion piece, for your company or organisation is to consider what makes a story newsworthy. For decades journalists have used what is termed ‘news values’, elements of a story used to quickly assess and determine whether an idea or event is worth sharing, and if so, how quickly. The first essential step before you even put pen to paper is to consider what makes a story newsworthy.

There are seven key news values that journalists typically consider, which decide whether a story is deemed newsworthy. It is imperative that any story you are thinking about writing and issuing to journalists ticks at least one of these boxes, otherwise it’s likely your story will not see the light of day.

Think like a journalist! The seven key news values are as follows:

An event is more newsworthy the sooner it is reported. If you are thinking about drafting a press release about an event that has taken place, this must be issued as soon as the event has taken place, any later and it would be deemed ‘old’ news. However, the type of publication you are targeting must be considered too – for a daily, forget it. But if it is a monthly publication, for instance, you may still stand a chance of some coverage. Timeliness is even more important in a world where social media is so prevalent.

Events are more newsworthy the closer they are to the communities reading about them. If you are running a story concerning a community group in Stirling, for example, consider the people who you would want to read about it and target the publications they read. So, publications local to Stirling would be interested. But further afield, in Perth or Dundee? No chance. This does change however depending on the scale of the event and whether it would be of benefit to those outwith the area in which it is taking place.

Events are more newsworthy if they affect a greater number of people. This news value is self-explanatory – but explains why so often we hear about natural disasters which have taken place over the world in our mainstream news.


Events are more newsworthy if they involve public figures, as there is a big appetite for news on celebrities. This explains why brands are so keen to engage high profile celebrities in their public relations – they bring a significant spotlight onto their brand which wouldn’t be there otherwise.

Events are more newsworthy the more unusual and out of the ordinary they are. Do you have any quirky elements to your potential story? Then major on this angle as consumers have a large appetite for the strange, unusual and just plain weird.

Events are more newsworthy if they involve an issue which is top of mind to the public. Ever wondered why there are so many national days celebrating everything under the sun? Here’s your reason why. National days and weeks provide a constant stream of invaluable ‘hooks’ for news stories. These include those high-profile events which take place annually that are top of mind to the public, such as St Andrews Day, Burns Night and Pancake Day. Your story has a place if it’s on the back of a ‘hot potato’ issue in the main news agenda.

Events are more newsworthy when they involve disagreement. Sick of Brexit dominating the news agenda, for what seems like forever? This is the reason why, the constant disagreement between all the parties involved makes great news fodder. A story which ticks all the boxes above would be incredibly compelling and is likely to hit the jackpot for you in terms of the quality and quantity of coverage achieved. However, it is not necessary for a story to tick every box to be considered. It is possible to curate a story which ticks more than one box, which will help your chances of coverage. It’s also helpful to become familiar with the publications you are likely to want to target to get a feel for the stories they typically cover.

If you think you’d like Cunningly Good Communications to help get the most out of your PR, give us a call on 01738 658187.