This is a mantra I hear frequently when people talk about the traditional media and it always shows me how little we consider where news comes from.
News comes from human beings who are doing things – journalists have no magic wands, their job is not rocket science, it’s about dealing with and spreading information – and that’s all.
It’s so easy to blame things on the ‘press’ or increasingly on ‘social media’ as a convenient get-out clause without considering how news gets to us journalists.
The truth is bad news reaches the public domain very quickly in the UK and it’s easily accessible.
Often a bad news story will involve a public body at some point – public bodies are publicly accountable, spending our money and they have to be seen to be doing their job. So bad news comes via the police, the ambulance service, the local authority, industrial tribunals, courts, etc etc.
Bad news is also quite unusual and that can make it appealing. If you look at a newspaper, for example, how many of the lead stories are negative rather than positive?
Good news is much harder to sell because it’s so commonplace. There are good news stories all around us. Did someone smile at you today? Were babies born at the local hospital today? Was it someone’s birthday today? Do you expect all of these ‘good news’ stories to make headlines? The truth is a lot of good news is so common in any village, town or city that it’s mundane. You cannot full a newspaper with stories about people’s birthdays – who would read it?
So if you are building a brand, publicizing an event, you have to make it stand out from the crowd, make it easy for the journalist to use your story and trust the information. Like anything else it needs to be packaged correctly to have a chance of making it out there.
That involves not only the story but timing – if it’s a slow news day you might stand a better chance of publicity. Timing is as important as anything else. We can’t control what goes on in the world on any given day but we can play the odds – it’s likely that a local newspaper will not have a big news story every day of the week. And with social media, get the news out there, several times if necessary.
Tip: There are no guarantees with PR – it’s about playing the odds, knowing the individuals, hitting the right note at the right time and acting quickly when opportunities arise.