Being a former journalist, I talk a lot about the “news values” that editors use to attract readers to stories whether they appear in the newspaper, magazine, TV/radio, or online. Every journalist knows them intimately – as should every PR practitioner and marketing professional who deals with the media on a daily basis. They are key in developing compelling stories that garner attention from editors and ultimately your targeted audiences.
To set the table, here are the news values that make newsworthy stories:
- Impact – the number of people whose lives will be affected by the subject of the story, the more newsworthy it will be. (Example: unemployment, economy, housing and gas prices, natural disasters, education issues, presidential elections, etc.)
- Timeliness – the more recent something has happened, the more newsworthy it is. (Example: anything that happened today, any current trends affecting industries and peoples’ lives, upcoming events, etc.)
- Prominence – the more prominent the person or the event, the more newsworthy the story is. (Example: George Clooney’s recent fundraising dinner for President Obama, Mark Zuckerberg’s “executive hoodie” on Wall Street, Britain’s royal couple Kate and William appearing anywhere, etc.)
- Proximity – the closer to home the story is, the more newsworthy it is – for that community. (Example: something that happens in one’s community may not be as important in another community farther away such as an earthquake in San Diego may not be as important to somebody in Boston.)
- Conflict – the bigger the disagreement, the more newsworthy it is. (Example: politics, sports, war, industry strikes, etc.)
- Bizarre/Unusual – the weirder it is, the more newsworthy it is. (Example: “man bites dog,” anything in Hollywood, Cirque du Soleil, earthquake in Boston, zombie ants, etc.)
- Currency – the bigger the issues, topics, or trends in the public spotlight, the more newsworthy they will be. (Example: 2012 Olympics, Facebook IPO, presidential election, continuous technology advancements, etc.)
Now that the table has been set, look on any newsstand, news website, TV or radio news broadcast and you will see these news values at work. Many stories have a combination of values, which makes them even more newsworthy. Subsequently, they get placed on the front page or positioned as the top story on the evening news.
News values are vitally important to the media to sell newspapers, increase viewership, boost ratings, and multiply page views. But these values can also be used to garner attention from your credit union’s members. In other words, news outlets can be leapfrogged to deliver your tailored, educated messages directly to your members. That’s why social media is so effective if used correctly. Producing “how to” pieces, member success stories, and feature articles – whether it’s through social media channels, website, newsletters, or direct mail (email) – news values can be of great help to you in creating the right message that strikes a chord with your members and prospects.
Let’s revisit the news values and see how your credit union can leverage them to garner direct consumer attention…
- Impact: Obviously, anything financial has great impact on today’s consumer. As we slowly emerge from the previous years’ recession, consumers are still looking to budget wisely. This is where your credit union can step up and provide practical, educational financial content that will benefit them. This is an area where credit unions can lead the FI pack with consistent messaging.
- Timeliness: If there is an event or issue that has just happened or ongoing, tie it in your credit union’s services with what’s going on right now. For instance, credit unions certainly capitalized on Bank Transfer Day late last year ending up with one of the largest consumer migrations in its history. Credit unions continue to take advantage of banks recent woes with messages of stability and lending advantages – which is very timely.
- Prominence: Dovetailing on the timeliness value, banks are obviously prominent in our society – especially the “too big to fail” ones. I’m not saying they are better; I’m saying that when the big ones are in trouble, that’s news. Credit unions should – and have – take advantage of these continuous bank faux pas with educational, helpful stories that provide balance in the consumer’s mind.
- Proximity: This one is a no-brainer. Your credit union should be the end-all, be-all financial resource within its immediate community. It’s that simple. Provide members and prospects with educational pieces consistently so you become the trusted resource. You are in the community, close to home; take advantage of it.
- Conflict: Let’s face it; finances create conflict. Money creates discourse in businesses, marriages, families, charitable organizations, and many other areas. Your credit union can be the one to quell that conflict with consistent, helpful advice for folks in these situations. Be a “go to” resource.
- Bizarre/Unusual: Life is bizarre. We are living in one of the most challenging times since the Great Depression. Incredibly bizarre and unusual events have happened to tens of thousands of people when the economy took a nosedive. These events certainly make news but also make prime opportunities for credit unions to fly in and save the day – which are great stories to tell their members and prospects.
- Currency: There are a myriad of current, significant events that occur on a daily basis – all at the national, regional, and local levels. Your credit union should capitalize on any of these events tying in how your financial services can help out. Obviously, once again, the economy has had a huge impact on our lives. Your credit union should ride this horse for as long as it has legs with a message of stability, balance, and prosperity. As long as there are issues of this nature, your credit union should never be short on helpful messages to attract consumers and continue to solidify relationships with established members.
News values not only help you get placed in your targeted media, they can also help you craft a compelling message to ensure consumers see you as a prime resource for managing their finances. Follow these values – or combinations thereof – with any marketing or media effort, and you should be in good shape to draw interest with your target audience.
What values has your credit union successfully used to craft compelling marketing messages?
Mike Lawson; principal of the marketing firm, DML Communications, and host of the credit union industry’s only online video talk show, CUbroadcast; has more than 20 years of journalism, public relations, and marketing experience. Lawson has an extensive background within the financial services industry stemming back to the mid-‘90s working for Symitar, establishing DML Communications in 2002, and starting CUbroadcast in 2010. He speaks on journalism, PR, marketing, and social media topics to credit union industry organizations nationwide. www.dmlcommunications.com www.CUbroadcast.com