Think Like a Journalist

When I began writing for the Asian Wall Street Journal, I learned to ask “What’s new?”  So, when my clients ask me to consult on their media exposure, we ask, “What’s new?”

Journalists are under tremendous pressure to cover topics that are fresh and newsworthy.  Make their job easy for them.  Learn to think like a journalist.

First, take your pride out of the equation.  The fact that you won a big case or trial is interesting to other lawyers (maybe), but much less interesting to journalists–and the general public.  What is interesting is something unusual. 

Journalists look for “hooks.”  Ask, “What’s the hook?”  The more unusual the news item, the more it is a “hook.”

For example, the fact that your law firm is opening an office in Dubai is moderately interesting.  The fact that your firm’s Dubai office has hired the son of a prominent government official from Dubai is somewhat more interesting. The fact that this same son has a highly unusual hobby–training to be an astronaut, or collecting rare manuscripts from Medieval Germany–is more interesting.  That’s a “hook.” In the journalist’s eyes (and this is what counts); it’s an unusual, newsworthy fact.

Dry business facts may get news coverage, but news with an unusual “hook” has a better chance of being reported–and more widely reported.

How to brainstorm about media “hooks”?  Think them up yourself, brainstorm with creative friends, or hire a PR consultant. But always, look for the unusual.


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