Posted on 8/22/2018

What’s News? A Public Relations Primer for Business

Barbara Fornasiero

As a PR professional, I am often asked what is “news?” It’s a critical question when considering whether certain information is appropriately shared in a press release. First, while communication vehicles have expanded over the last decade or so, I contend that what constitutes as actual news has not. For a frame of reference to those who are considering a press release as a vehicle to share information, whether through Automation Alley’s News at 8 or to send directly to media outlets, keep in mind that the media is interested in information that is:

  • New
  • First
  • Controversial 
  • Trending


Does your news involve the unveiling of a new service or product? If so, is it a product that is unique to your company? Is the product brand new or substantially different from its predecessor in terms of function, audience or cost?  Does the new or improved product or service allow your company to enter new markets? If you can answer ‘yes’ to these questions, you likely have news that can be shared via a press release. By the way, new also refers to personnel changes such as promotions and staff additions, especially at the director level and above, as well as a new location, a new branding or advertising campaign and a new major client. 


Is your new product or service truly the first of its kind? Many products or services touted as game changers or breakthroughs are not—and the media knows it. If your announcement does involve a true “first” and merits a press release, avoid such descriptors as “state of the art,” “one of a kind,” “revolutionary,” “cutting edge” and “high tech.” Not only are these words and phrases overused and even dated, they are often hyperbole, if not downright untrue.   


Is your news controversial? Even though the media loves controversy—and we love to read about it—do you really want to share controversial content via a press release? I would argue that most Automation Alley members don’t. If your company finds itself in a controversial situation, you may need to respond, but a press release may not be the best means to do so. In such a situation, you may want to instead issue a holding statement that indicates you are aware of the controversial issue in question and are investigating. 


Is your news the reflection of a national or state-wide trend? Many of us love to see what’s “trending.”  Often, news at the national or international level can be used as a springboard to explain how a particular trend is playing out at the local level. For example, if a global employer suddenly retracts its work-from-home policy, media here will be looking at what employers are doing locally. If your company followed suit or implemented an even more liberal work-from-home policy that bucks the trend, that information could be press release worthy. Or if your company is making a component for the latest transportation craze like scooters, that’s likely press release worthy, too. 

Sharing non-news is irritating to the media. Before you invest time in writing and posting and/or distributing a press release, determine if it fits the parameters of new, first, controversial or trending. If not, that means it fails the PR “so what” rule. When someone reads your press release, you don’t want their first reaction to be, “So what?”

Are you an Automation Alley member and want to share your company news? Take advantage of Automation Alley’s daily press release distribution service, an outstanding vehicle for member companies to share news and information of interest to CEOs, COOs, CFOs, chief engineers, CPAs, attorneys and a variety of traditional and trade media, as well as bloggers and influencers. Press releases appear on and are shared Monday through Friday in Automation Alley’s daily “News at 8” email blast

About the Author

Barbara Fornasiero | EAFocus Inc. Public Relations

Barbara Fornasiero is the founder of EAFocus Inc., a public relations firm focused on thought leadership and corporate image building for professional service firms, medical/dental organizations, governmental units, business-to-business, select affinity groups and other non-retail niche areas.


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