Craft Your Story for the Media

Any information that appears in the media that increases people’s awareness and understanding of the profession of family and consumer sciences is beneficial. While a national television news feature on the benefits of high school classes on family and consumer sciences might represent a major success in efforts to educate the public, smaller stories that appear in local media also influence public perceptions.

For example, placing an announcement about a community service award you received can contribute to increased awareness of types of activities in which members of AAFCS are involved. If hundreds place similar items in their local papers, these cumulative efforts will have a much larger impact.

Following are criteria that can help you determine whether information has news value:

Usefulness – Is the information in the news item educational and useful to the public?

Magnitude – How many people are affected and how intensely are they affected?

Timeliness – This tends to separate hard news from soft news. Timely items (hard news) are immediate and must run today. Items that have no time sensitivity (soft news) could run tomorrow, next week, or at the medium’s discretion. Both are valued.

Proximity – Does it or can it happen here?

Prominence – How important is the “big shot” involved? Be honest, is the person really important or well known to the general public?

Human Interest – Does this news story trigger human emotion? Does it involve such things as families, children, pets, romance, tragedy, or intrigue?

Flexible Format – Is this information sufficiently flexible to allow any medium to choose its own method of producing it, such as with audio tape, videotape, photo story, or an interview?

Visual – Without it, a medium other than television should be considered. Remember, most TV stations feel the worst possible news story visually is a “talking head shot.”

Frosting on the Cake – Does the story have action? Can the whole news item be somewhat entertaining? These qualities create high interest in the story.

Next, learn how to get your story to media.