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Top 7 Stories Reporters Don’t Want to Hear

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You’ve decided to make press releases part of your public relations program – Now what?

Developing newsworthy material can be tougher than you think. Reporters get barraged with scores of article submissions every day, so they eagerly look for reasons to ignore them. While nobody can say for sure what the news is, these Top 7 stories definitely are not:

#1. Shameless self-promotion, any topic. Reporters have no interest in singing your praises; their job is to inform the public. Articles littered with hype flags like “world’s greatest” and “revolutionary new product” go straight to the recycle bin.

#2. News blobs. Even if you have actual news, reporters want a sharp angle, not a confused pile of facts. Arrange your information into a story people want to hear. Suppose you’re announcing a newly opened branch office—who cares? But if you explain how it created 30 jobs for an economically ravaged community, people will care plenty.

#3. Blah, blah, blah. Press releases over 650 words have no chance. Ideal is 300-400 words.

#4. Better never than late. Do not submit stories about an event that will take place the next day. Print and online media need at least 48 hours (often more) to edit material and prepare layouts. Respect their lead times and reporters will respect you.

#5. Announcing! Stories about new online store openings are so common they have ceased to be news. So unless you have a spectacular angle, put your ramp-up efforts into SEO and PPC.

#6. So-and-so got promoted. People get promoted all the time. You need to be able to tell the reporter why this promotion is special, different, and worth taking up valuable space in his publication.

#7. New client! Companies like to brag when they land a big client. Occasionally these events get written up into effective press releases, case studies, and white papers. But typically, the stories sound like self-promotion and never see the light of day or dark of ink.

Remember: reporting and advertising are entirely different disciplines. Advertisers tell why, but reporters need who, what, where and when. Advertisers are partisan and make claims; reporters are objective and demand facts. Finally, advertising is eternally optimistic, but a solid news story often contains information that is negative from the company’s point of view. Make sense? If so, pick up your press credentials and start typing.

Aaron Wittersheim is president of Whoast Inc., a suburban Chicago search marketing firm. For more information, visit

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  • Posted On December 29, 2006
  • Published articles 283513

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