8 News Values: How to Tackle Media Relations and Keep Your Credibility

By January 12, 2012Media, Public Relations

The media (and the world at large) would like your help. Understanding the difference between what’s news and what’s not is super important. As users of smartphones, blogs and YouTubes we are ALL the media. As consumers of news, we, through consumption, sharing and engaging, determine what’s interesting to the masses.

Ah, such responsibility!

As a business person, marketer or communications lead for a nonprofit it is critically important to fully “get” the eight news values, and to understand that your “news” must fit into one of these buckets and you must have a pretty clear understanding of how to articulate that fit. If you can’t, and keep wondering why the media “never” covers what you pitch, you might take some time to seriously consider whether what you’re sharing is really even news at all.

I’ve been using the following list to help pitch news, create client editorial calendars, teach public relations students, mentor people in my industry and keep my own public relations on message for many years. As a special bonus, I’m offering you the workshop handout, Is it News? from Jaggers Communications to download, print, post above your desk and on your refrigerator, at the end of this post.

8 News Values You Can Use

1. Proximity — is location a factor? What’s happening right in the client’s back yard?

2. Prominence — has someone famous aligned themselves with the company?

3. Significance — is this the first of its kind anywhere in the world? The biggest?

4. Timeliness — is there something happening “today only” or for a limited time?

5. Human interest — is there a story to be told about the owner of the company, its employees or its customers? There’s potential for a whole series of stories here.

6. Unusualness — what makes this story or this client really different from its competition? What is happening that rarely happens anywhere?

7. Conflict — this is not always the direction you want your news to take, but if your client has come into conflict with a customer, local authorities or a competing entity, the story may become that news rather than the news you want to share.

8. Currency (newness) — the value in news that is new lasts about two seconds in today’s speed-driven communications. It’s tricky to get in front of a story and share something that’s new, and it won’t be news unless you’re the very first to break it.

Now . . . go forth and be newsworthy!

Get the handout — Is it News? From Jaggers Communications



  • KenMueller says:

    Good stuff. I’ll be downloading and sharing this post with my PR prof friends!

  • Marijean says:

    @KenMueller Thanks Ken — this was content I originally developed long ago when teaching PR students at a university in Missouri — and it continues to resonate with students of all ages. You are welcome to it!