The concept of "news" is something that I've seen get mixed up by small businesses all the time. In their need of press releases, article marketing, business blogging, and a slew of other content marketing services, there's a huge misunderstanding of the different between news and marketing speak, of what constitutes news and what doesn't. This misunderstanding leads to press releases, articles, and blog posts going unread, unnoticed, and uncared for by anyone other than the company who produced the content.
Just what makes something news, or newsworthy? There are four criteria to news, so let's break them down one by one:
- Is it new? - In order for something to be news, it has to be new. That's why it's called news! And anything new is anything that's being reported or told for the fist time, with the caveat that it's recent and relevant. You may have held a great even several weeks ago, but writing a press release on how well it went will not garner much interest. That story is simply no new enough. However, if that same event helped the company to meet sales goals, or inspired a new employee to join the team, or inspired the company to host a future event, then any of those would be newsworthy enough for a good press release.
- Is it unusual? - Things happen all the time that are "new" at your business: a new customer, a new location, a new employee. But, is it unusual? Just because it's new doesn't mean it's unusual, and it doesn't mean that it's news. now, if that new customer is in an industry you have worked with yet, or the customer is really well-known to the general public (like a celebrity or a Fortune 500 company), then that's unusual enough to be news.
- Is it interesting or signficant? - As a disclaimer, new names, new website domains/designs, and new phone numbers never count as news. Why? It's not interesting or significant! No one would care about such changes except your company. News needs to be interesting or significant, and interesting and significant to people outside of the company. This is where that marketing speak tends to creep in and muddle the news. It could be new and unusual that you have a service that your competitors don't have, or that you're latest product is made from recycled materials, but to whom is that interesting and significant? Marketing speak is only interesting and significant to the one who's speaking.
- Is it about people? - News is centered around people, and the people your news should be centered around are your readers and customers. If there's a new industry trend happening, how would this affect your customers? If your customers are constantly asking the same questions, why not find the answers to those questions? That would be interesting and newsy to your customers. Consider a newspaper; if all the paper did was talk about themselves, then no one would buy it. Talk about what the reader or customer wants to talk about.
Those four criteria constitute news. Those who have a content marketing strategy that centers around producing news or newsworthy content need to keep this in mind in order to develop content that engages and attracts attention. As American editor Arthur McEwen said, "News is anything that makes a reader say, `Gee Whiz'!"