Tuesday, May 26, 2015

What makes news? Prominence

Today, we wrap up our seven-part exploration into just what makes reporters look at a story idea and decide to cover it. This last one really stands out:
  • Timeliness
  • Proximity
  • Impact or Consequence
  • Novelty or Rarity
  • Conflict
  • Human interest
  • Prominence
Prominence can take a seemingly insignificant event and turn it into a media circus for sure, Don't believe me? Earlier this month, Prince William and his wife Kate welcomed their second child into the world. A daughter. 

The royal family with their newest daughter
Her name is Charlotte Elizabeth Diana, and, as was said in the 1970's ballad the Cat's in the Cradle, she came to the world in the usual way. In fact, she was one of but approximately 353,000 births that took place on May 2. 

What made her birth so special? Could it be that she was the second child of the future King of the United Kingdom? Yeah, that might have something to do with it.

Prominence can take a routine story and make it something much bigger. Driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence checkpoints are frequently seen set up by law enforcement agencies across the country, especially during busy holiday weekend, and thousands of citations are issued during these wolf pack events. 

Police running a DUI checkpoint
Again, if your average Joe gets picked up in the sweep, there will be little if any reporting of the activity, other than to maybe link his one case as part of the statistics. Get your Mayor involved, and the news will be all over the place.

This is also why charities and other civic-minded groups reach out to sports figures, actors and other celebrities to get their endorsement for their activities. While the work of many non-profit agencies is certainly beneficial to the community, you can bet that donations to and coverage of the effort will be considerably higher with a headlining celebrity to make the pitch.

Hall of Fame football player Jerry Rice is active in charitable activities
While each of these seven traits taken individually can make or break a story, as you prepare to make your media pitch, check to see how many of them you can line up for your piece. The more boxes you tick, the more you will find that your stories are complete, interesting and capture the attention of more reporters. 

Tom Iovino, Public Relations Strategist
Hillsborough County, Florida

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