Whether they ask these two questions or not, on the minds of any reporter or editor, when you suggest any story are: Why do a story? And, why do it now? Any good publicity expert must anticipate these two questions if he or she wants to effectively raise the profile of an organization.
That is why when planning any sort of media relations or publicity project, large or small, I start with those two questions. The entire media relations strategy must be built on the answers because these are the same questions individual reporters must answer when they pitch a story to their editors.
When a reporter wonders whether he or she should do a story, the reporter wants to know if the story warrants diverting time, energies and resources from other stories. That can determine whether the event, information or development is worth the time and attention of readers, site visitors and viewers. This is what old-school journalists called “newsworthiness.”
The second question, “Why do it now?” centers mostly on whether it makes sense for the journalist to put off an diversion of resources for a later time. If the story is not so timely today that it can be delayed, it will be, and the longer it is delayed, the less newsworthy it will become.
If a company wants to create visibility for a new headquarters complex to be built a year from now, that can wait. If the ribbon cutting for a new building is tomorrow, that’s more newsworthy.
More often than not, however, the lines are not so clear. In our publicity efforts, we have to make sure that when we approach reporters we have news and that it’s timely. We have to answer two questions. “Why should I do a story? And why do it now?”