Sniffing out a story. Why news sense is important

Sniffing out a story. Why news sense is important.

Over time many PR professionals or media relations specialists cut their teeth on local papers. And if as a young journalist you didn’t have a news sense it was quickly and often quite ruthlessly drilled into you.

Covering court cases and council meetings, doing police and fire calls and covering tough and sometimes horrid assignments became part and parcel of learning the trade – and at the same time all working to high speed deadlines.

When the agenda was slack and news was slow, you had to go out and find news. Building contacts and sniffing out a story was essential.

You might also have to turn your hand to feature stories, come up with new and innovative ideas, so there was a bank of material for when the paper might have more space.

The route into PR has changed

All this was a grounding that in the last few years has dissipated from the scene as local newspapers have drastically reduced in staff numbers. It’s meant that the route into journalism and into PR has changed.

Most come straight from university into PR agencies. Some may still find a job on a local paper or on a trade magazine or others make their way as bloggers. Where to then today for the new entrants into PR to acquire a news sense?

Some can find themselves writing for the university or students newspaper to gain that news awareness. There’s those that may be pure naturals with an inquisitive mindset. Others on journalism or PR courses may be put through the grill to gather that sense of what makes news.
Social media has meant that news travels faster and that can on its own make people more news aware. To really gather news sense there’s no better way than to read newspapers, listen and watch the news, to get that nose for what makes a story.

Why news sense is so important

Why does a PR need news sense? It’s all very simple. If you’re going to get the client into the media, you need to know what a reporter wants, you need to know what the client’s knowledge base and does that makes news. You need to breathe the language and mind-set of journalists’ so that you can provide the news content they require.

When they arrive to begin work at an agency, the risk is that many young PR executives are pushed into a corner on a mundane project or are left to undertake admin tasks. If, however, they find themselves in a media relations focused niche agency, such as here at BlueSkyPR, you soon get to know you’ve got to understand the news agenda, the media and what’s needed to get good quality coverage.

By having that nose for a news story, we’re able to deliver more coverage for the client. That, of course, brings a happy client. And if you possess that news sense ‘buzz’ you’ll get a kick from the coverage you achieve. It’s a great feeling.

If you’d like more information on how BlueSky can help your organisation with quality coverage for its stories get in touch.


ChrisAuthor: Chris Johnson


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