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Pro PR Tips for Understanding "Newsworthiness" in Public Relations

Ever wonder why some news stories make headlines while others get published in the back pages and after as long as 2 weeks?

Just as we choose what news to consume, media outlets decide what's worth publishing or even covering.

GATLUNG AND RUGE, 1973 newsworthiness

Traditionally, media have used specific values to judge newsworthiness, influencing how much attention a story gets and how it's presented. Two key models, developed by Gatlung and Ruge in 1973 and followed up by Shoemaker et al. in 1987, shed light on how journalists make these decisions.

SHOEMAKER ET AL., 1987 newsworthiness

Without boring you with the history of these values, you should know that every news outlet follows its own protocol for selecting stories, but certain traditional values help determine a story's "newsworthiness." The more of these values a story meets, the more likely it is to be prominently featured in mass media.


Understanding the criteria that define newsworthy Public Relations stories can help in crafting compelling stories, prioritising coverage, and consuming news more critically.

Here are the key factors that contribute to newsworthiness, in respect to corporate news:


One of the primary criteria for newsworthiness is how current the story is. News is called "news" because it is new information. Events that have just happened or are about to happen are considered more newsworthy than those that occurred in the past. Timeliness ensures that the audience receives the most up-to-date information, keeping them informed about recent developments.

Most times corporates tend to forget that the world continues to turn, and turn it does - particularly with the constant flow of information and news.

If you're too slow to report on your internal news, chances are media and readers would've probably already seen it on your social media, heard of it from others, or have even seen similar more timely news from other corporates.


The potential impact of a story is a significant factor in determining its newsworthiness. Stories that affect a large number of people or have significant consequences are more likely to be covered. For instance, a new policy affecting healthcare or a natural disaster impacting thousands will garner more attention due to its wide-reaching effects.

Most times "news" goes beyond just the "big stuff" that's happening at work. Taking a look at a PR strategy from a broader perspective has yielded better results. It's also important to ask yoruself whether any particular news you're considering for publication should be communicated via a PR article, or a social media update.


Relevance refers to the importance of the story to the audience’s current interests or concerns. News that addresses ongoing issues, trends, or widespread societal interests tends to be more newsworthy. This can include economic trends, health scares, or technological advancements that affect people’s daily lives.

It is important to consider whether the news you're trying to release is appropriate for the audiences you're trying to reach, and via which platforms/ sections - i.e is the context of your story truly geared towards Business, Lifestyle, Education, Travel or Sports (for example), and has it been written appropriately for audiences in that section.


Proximity refers to the geographical closeness of the news event to the audience. Local news tends to be more newsworthy to a local audience because it directly affects their community and environment.

People are generally more interested in what happens close to home compared to distant locations unless the distant event has significant global implications.


In an age overflowing with information, distinguishing what makes a piece of news worthy of attention is crucial for brands and PR professionals wanting to connect journalists, editors, and even casual news consumers with a brand.

There generally is a very clear distinction between what is newsworthy and what is an internal milestone to celebrate within your own ranks - the key is looking at your brand with a broader perspective.

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