What is Newsworthy?

Students, faculty, staff and administrators at the University of West Florida represent a variety of diverse backgrounds and areas of expertise, with countless potential stories to be told. Media outlets, however, have limited space in their publications or time during their broadcasts, so it is important to know which stories gain visibility for the University.


Institutional Communications strives to identify newsworthy stories that will appeal to a variety of media outlets. Press releases share newsworthy stories with a large number of media outlets, but not every story requires or warrants a press release.

Institutional Communications works with multiple media outlets on a daily basis and understands their interests and preferences. When Institutional Communications pitches stories to media outlets directly via phone or email, it may result in improved coverage in comparison to a press release.

The stories that stand out above others and are likely to capture the interest of the University's target audiences will have at least one of the following qualities:

Novelty

If something is new or unusual, that adds to its potential news appeal. Unique stories with elements that are happening for the first time or the first time in a long time will more likely receive attention.

Timeliness

A story’s potential news appeal depends heavily on when it’s pitched. For event coverage, it’s important to distribute news early enough to garner interest from potential attendees and media, but not so early that it will be forgotten before the event occurs. Other stories may be timely because they link to statewide, national or international news during a specific time of year.

Relevance

Each audience has its own interests, and they want to know how the news impacts them. Finding stories that are relevant to the University community and local community is a high priority. It is helpful to ask “does this matter” and “to whom.” If it will greatly impact the local community, region or state, it will likely be of interest to the media.

Context

Most stories are not compelling by themselves; they require context to stand out and garner attention. Providing context through data, charts, graphs and photos can elevate a story’s quality.

  • EXAMPLE: The UWF archaeology program announced the discovery of a 16th century Spanish shipwreck in Pensacola Bay in October 2016. This story was accompanied by multiple photos of the artifacts, an underwater video of the archaeology team at work and a website dedicated to the team's research related to Tristán de Luna y Arellano.
    UWF archaeology program discovers third shipwreck from Luna fleet
  • EXAMPLE: Researchers from the UWF Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice released their second study about the use of police body-worn cameras. This story quoted multiple statistics from the research and linked to the complete versions of the original and follow-up studies.
    Study: Public sees benefit in police use of body-worn cameras

Human Interest

Readers identify strongly with stories that highlight other people. The main focus of a story might be to announce a new academic program, but readers will be interested in how the program impacts current and future students. Focusing on the people behind the action will appeal to readers’ emotions and garner more interest from the media.

Prominence

If the “who” or “what” of the story is a well-known person, organization or place, that alone can help a story become newsworthy. Readers and the media will recognize significant names and want to know more.

News Hook

Certain topics are of interest to large audiences around the country or world. Finding ways to become a part of those larger conversations - to localize them - can help a story become newsworthy.

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