Early in my TV career, a consultant from the Magid Company, the people
who practically invented TV news research, told me something that
helped me enormously through the years.

 
‘There are no dull stories,’ she said. ‘Just dull approaches to
interesting stories.’

 
It’s true. And it’s critical to remember if you want to get
free publicity from any working journalist in any medium.
All journalists want information that’s ‘newsworthy.’ But just
how do you ‘make’ a story newsworthy?

 
Here’s an example.

 
One of my customers, James Wilson, recently sent me a draft
of a press release he’d written and asked me to critique it
for him.

 
He was hoping to generate some media interest in a
report he’d authored about writing copy for newspaper ads.

 
He said he wanted to strengthen the lead sentence in the
body of the copy, which read something like:

 
‘Newspaper ads can be a powerful and productive part of
anyone’s marketing campaign…’

 
That’s definitely true, I pointed out…but it has ALWAYS
been true. An editor would be likely to ask, ‘What’s new
about that?’

 
Reporters, producers and editors are always looking for
‘news value’ in a press release. To get a positive
response, your release has to say ‘I’ve got news
for you!’

 
So I suggested a slightly different approach.
Here’s the revision I sent back to him:

 
(Headline) It all ‘Ads’ Up–Newspaper Classifieds Are Back

 
(Subheadline) Whether you’re selling jewelry or jalopies,
classifieds are a potent promotional vehicle for small
business — but only if they’ve got the ‘write stuff.’

 
(Body) In the dash to board what looked like the ‘new
economy’ gravy train a few years ago, millions of business
owners switched advertising dollars away from traditional
ads in newspapers.

 
‘A lot of them now wish they hadn’t,’ according to business
expert James Wilson.

 
‘While many internet advertising initiatives never delivered
on expectations,’ Wilson adds, ‘the old tried-and-true
newspaper ad still seems to provide a good return on
investment.’

 
‘But,’ he continues, ‘You’ve got to make sure the ad is well
written. Advertising budgets have become so stretched, you
can’t afford sloppy copy that doesn’t get the results you
need.’ (end of revised release)

 
Now the copy is hitting a news ‘hot button.’

 
‘Hot buttons’ are certain universal themes, story lines,
hooks, tie-ins and angles that make something ‘newsworthy.’

 
There are dozens of them. Controversy, record-breakers,
milestones, celebrities, human interest stories, scandal,
conspiracy, government malfeasance, etc.

 
I call the hot button in this particular case ‘myth-
busting.’

 
Myth-busting occurs when evidence surfaces disputing
conventional wisdom or accepted patterns of thought.
What’s the myth in this case?

 
The idea that the internet is going to make newspaper ads
obsolete.

 
The report James wrote ‘busts’ that myth.

 
Editors, reporters, and producers love to bust myths. It’s
a big hot button.

 
So when you’re composing a release, remember–you have to
find a way to connect your release to a hot button.

 
Without it…your press release will never ‘make the news.’
Instead, it will become ‘history.’

 
Get a free report detailing how to use dozens of news ‘hot
buttons’ by subscribing to George McKenzie’s free ezine,
‘Get Free Publicity.’ Go to
Publicity Goldmine
George has more than 30 years experience as an award-winning
radio and TV journalist. His work has been featured on ABC,
NBC, CBS, ESPN and CNN.