What is NEWS? A Public Relations MAP

14 Feb What is NEWS? A Public Relations MAP

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My children recently asked me if “NEWS” was an acronym meaning North, East, West, South, implying that it covers all angles, or information from every cardinal direction. A Google search nullified this pretty quickly, offering grammatical insight that the word “news” represents what is “new.” (And a rare instance of an English adjective becoming a noun when made plural; perhaps a formation leap from French.)

What actually qualifies as “news,” however, is not so straightforward. In fact, the standard of news is one of the top questions our clients ask us related to putting out a press release. The mysterious quandary was also brought up by participants at a training workshop we conducted last month for the runners-up in our 2017 Nonprofit Challenge. Nailing the answer is essential to media relations—at least with a credible third-party media outlet.


The classical media definition of news, “Chapter 1,” is whether factual information is: new, interesting or significant, unusual and/or about people. While being new and about people can be easily determined, the rest is fairly subjective. After decades in the business of public relations, including several years working together as a team at LT Public Relations, we have a good sense of interpreting what news is, and what it is not.

Information may meet the standard grammatical description of news, but from a public relations’ perspective, to be new and relevant, information has to have some “pop.” This comes from going three steps further than simple timeliness to:

#1: Be relevant to your target audience.

#2: Illuminate a new trend, counter-intuitive insights or a radical game-changer.

#3: Potentially help change attitudes or perspectives.

Our clients often request that we publish information that we don’t consider newsworthy. Certainly, there is potential for this in the realm of information delivery, but it has to be kept in its place. A new hire, a new event or a new partner may be new information, but the core questions of So What? Who Cares? must always be considered.

For example, you may be conducting a survey and receive some good information. But if the results don’t lend themselves to a change of perspective, it’s not necessarily meaningful.

Our job is to be the barometer of what is news and whether a company’s content serves a larger purpose than pure information when engaging with the media. Your definition of news may be different than ours. We welcome your inquiries and discussions in helping you determine the most relevant way to present your information and insights. We can help develop and draft information and set expectations about all available channels.

When it comes to NEWS, let us point you in the right direction and get you on the best path forward.

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