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NewsworthyWorking in media relations is fraught with challenges to determine what is – and what is not news.

It’s one of the areas of public relations that HMA Public Relations has become known for, among others.  With nearly 40 years in the game – media relations is part of our culture.  The results for our clients are impressive.  Our team has daily conversations with assignment editors at television and radio stations and editors and reporters at newspapers across the local market and beyond.  In addition to the personal interaction, these discussions are typically about potential news coverage for our clients’ events, issues, breakthroughs and other initiatives.

Definition Of News

Merriam-Webster defines news as:

1              a : a report of recent events -- gave her the good news

b : previously unknown information -- I've got news for you

c : something having a specified influence or effect

  • the rain was good news for lawns and gardens —Garrison Keillor
  • the virus was bad news

2              a : material reported in a newspaper or news periodical or on a newscast -- listened to the news on the radio

b : matter that is newsworthy  -- The layoffs were big news in this part of the state.

3 : newscast -- We saw it on the evening news.

W.C. Fields once said:  “Never work with children or animals.”  That is clearly NOT the case when it comes to what makes news.

Animals Make News

Several years ago, the entire market came to a stand-still for coverage of “Llama Drama,” when two llamas ran free through the city for a few hours.  The live coverage of their wrangling was must-see TV.  The anniversary of the incident was even reported at great length!

Last week, two stray dogs got loose on a Valley freeway.  And again – it garnered full market media coverage as the canines eluded their pet-friendly pursuers.   The media was again smitten – or bitten – by the adventures of furry, four-legged fugitives.

Many years ago, the Chandler Ostrich Festival was an HMA Public Relations client.  The four-day event was a media-feeding frenzy to get the Newsworthyostriches on the air!

Determining what is newsworthy is a moving target that can change in a matter of minutes.  During media training sessions or presentations to community or student groups about what makes news, I often cite this:

  • When a dog bites a man – it is NOT news.
  • When a man bites a dog – it IS news.

Doggone it if you have a real hard-news event that is superseded by “animals gone wild.”  If the fur starts flying, expect to get jilted.

Scott Hanson
Scott Hanson
President Scott is president of HMA Public Relations and a founding member of the Public Relations Global Network. He’s a Phoenix native, husband, father of two and a fan of all sports and a participant in some. Check out Scott's full bio

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