I confess: I am a news junkie, even when the news is not so great.
I pore over AppleNews+ daily, absorb New York Times articles online, watch the local and NBC Nightly News (yes, all those prescription medicine commercials are aimed at me), read The New Yorker weekly (practically a full-time job), and otherwise try to keep track of current events.
The internet is full of writing about current events, of course. Twitter, TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and the like now make it possible to comment on events in real time (whether that’s good or evil is a discussion for another platform). Online outlets such as Slate, Reddit, Vulture, BuzzFeed, and HuffPost, as well as newspapers, magazines, and cable channels with an online presence like The New York Times, Time, and CNN, are hungry for literate commentary on what’s going on in the world. Online publications have scads of server space to fill each day.
For you, that opens up the opportunity to be published. One strategy is to look for a news hook that ties to your personal experience (Pro Tip 2), a story that illustrates what it’s like to live through an event. If you are an expert on something (Pro Tip 21), use your voice as part of an opinion piece. Another: Do person-on-the-street interviews with family, friends, colleagues, and strangers to gather perspectives on a news event and present them as a slice-of-life commentary. And, of course, you can start your own blog to comment on the news.
Start by identifying specific news hooks for a blog, essay, article, or column. Books tend to have broader news hooks because they take longer to produce, but many still link to trends to sell copies. Here are some examples of news hooks from late 2021:
Wait, So Are AirPods Still Cool?
Amidst the release of the unexciting third-gen AirPods, the case for sticking (or reverting back) to their wired predecessors.
Netflix’s ‘Squid Game’ Has Parents Asking: Should You Let Your Kids Watch?
Facebook’s Possible Name Change Has Everyone Talking.
History Says It’s a Tricky Business.
If you represent an organization seeking to get media coverage, it’s smart to link the news to what you have to say. Editors aren’t thrilled to cover your latest groundbreaking, but if you can tie your company news to a current event, you are more likely to get attention. Pay particular heed to headlines of press releases; write ones that are grabby and tethered to the times (see For Example, below).
The internet is a data-generating machine. Every day there are new studies published, new insights added to the national discussion, and fresh reflections of who we are. What appear to be hard truths are busted all the time thanks to new information.
This happens constantly: for instance, in health care, as we learn more about the mystery of how the body works and the differences among groups of people based on race, ethnicity, gender, or other factors. Medicine has traditionally studied white males and defined their health as “normal.” Nowadays, however, more research is finally focusing on women and under-represented communities, yielding fresh information that eliminates the idea that there is one “normal” for all people.
When writing effectively, research your topic (Pro Tip 20) to get the newsiest data. Credibility killers are facts that are out-of-date or contradicted by more recent research. Don’t give your readers the option of objecting because they have new data you didn’t take into consideration. Invest time in investigating the news, even if you’re conducting only internet searches (beware, of course, of false facts, which are rife online). Choose credible sources, and give credit for information by citing its origin.
You must meet audiences where they are, including what’s news to them. Botch that, and your piece will miss the mark in terms of truly engaging readers. Get it right, and you can tap into something powerful and influential, achieving true impact.
In her blog, digital marketing and public relations professional Brigitte Lyons, owner of the boutique agency B, offers tips on creating a current news hook in press releases:
Provide a twist on trending news.
Share a personal story, a surprising survey result or the contrarian view.
Localize a national story.
Pick up your local newspaper or flick on your local ABC affiliate, and you’ll see countless examples of businesses that got their 15 minutes by being the local example.
Nationalize a local story.
Scan your local news for hometown stories and ask yourself: Does this story have national relevance?
Be a contrarian.
If you’re seeing a one-sided media conversation about your industry, it’s an opportunity for you to break through as an expert—especially if you’re willing to champion the underdog opinion.
Personalize big data.
Set up alerts for surveys and polls on topics relevant to your business, and let the media know when you’re the case study for the results (or the exception to the rule).