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News values – the secret to a great angle for your press release

Recently we posted an Oxygen blog on how to write a press release. But before you put pen to paper, there’s something even more important to consider. How to angle your press release so that the press are clamouring to use it. To understand how to make your press release newsworthy, you need to understand news values. What elements are journalists looking for in a story which will make it valuable to them? Here’s an Oxygen guide to finding just the right angle for your press release.

Finding an angle

Good journalists are trained to recognise the elements of a story that will make it of interest to their readers. Basically, reasons why they should care about what’s being written about. These are called ‘news values’ and you need to learn them and bear them in mind every single time you write a press release. They are:

  • news value #1 − impact. If an event or development is going to affect a large number of people, it deserves wide coverage.
  • news value #2 − timeliness. If something has occurred recently or only been discovered recently, that too makes it of value to readers.
  • news value #3 − prominence. Leading organisations, authorities, public or famous figures hold great influence over the public. Consequently news about any of these parties is important.

  • news value #4 − proximity. A story may not involve a prominent figure or impact the country, but if it will impact a certain section of people living close to where it is taking place, then they’ll want to know about it.
  • news value #5 − the unusual. Anything out of the ordinary attracts interest because this kind of story has rarity value. So ‘Freddie Starr ate my hamster’ garners headlines because it’s eccentric, horrifying and unorthodox, and the reader wants to know more.
  • news value #6 − conflict. Any sort of controversy or conflict is something that the public wants to know about whether between ordinary individuals, celebrities, or great institutions.
  • news value #7 currency. Good journalists help their readers look ahead by keeping abreast of trends. Any idea whose time has come, hot topic or issue is something readers want to know about.
  • news value #8human interest. Good stories are about people. And people love to read about other people. Social or emotional issues raise empathy in the reader.
  • news value #9 piggybacking. This is a whole other way to gain press. Basically you hijack another story in order to gain press coverage for yourself. This is a whole other topic which we’ll be covering in another blog soon.

The more news values, the better

Of course a story may have several of these news values contained in it. In fact the more it has, the better. So the recent banking scandal stories have all contained impact, timeliness, prominence, conflict, and in terms of the debate about reforms, currency (no pun intended!) as well as numerous bodies and experts piggybacking for coverage on the back of them. So next time you’re considering how to frame a story (and working this and the headline out should take up at least 50% of the time you take to write it) see if you can find an angle that weaves several news values into it. A little effort at the start will repay itself many times over in the quantity and quality of press you secure.

But if you’re finding that hard to do, why not let Oxygen help? Give us a call today on 0845 2606. We write press releases that get you press.


Katie Sanders :Katie took a sales background into marketing, and holds chartered marketer status with the Chartered Institute of Marketing. A devotee of PR she heads up our publicity team.