Eight News Values: How They Still Fit Into Everyday Media Relations

I spent time recently responding to a request for information (RFI) from a possible future client. I enjoy developing these documents because it provides the opportunity to think through common practices and describe them in detail. For example, one of the questions in the form was:

“How does your firm approach trade publications from multiple perspectives in order to find the right story?”

My rule of thumb for multiple perspectives when pitching trade media follows closely along the principles of the eight recognized news values:

1. Proximity

2. Prominence

3. Significance

4. Timeliness

5. Human interest

6. Unusualness

7. Conflict

8. Currency (newness)

Any newsworthy story will fit into one or more of these values. I’ve been using this list for several years, beginning when I taught public relations to juniors and seniors majoring in communications at Fontbonne University. The list became part of the regular coursework; the students first learned to identify what news value was evident in media clips, then applied what they’d learned to “client” case studies to develop news releases and media pitches. The exercise was so valuable that there were many of those moments teachers live for – the “light bulb going on over the head” – throughout the semester. The news values continue to pay off when I apply them to media relations campaigns for all types of clients. It’s also a helpful tool when demonstrating to a client that the “announcement” they want to release to the media may not be actual news, until one of these values is represented.

Do you use the eight news values in media relations on behalf of your organization or your clients?


  • Suzanne

    Great advice, MJ! We do something similar, but your approach is much more thorough. Thanks for sharing your wisdom. We also add, will this help the media outlet gain credibility with its readers? News outlets are having to compete at a level never seen before.  If we can help show how they will provide something special to their readers and subscribers, they will appreciate it.