This week, a guest post from Vancouver-based communications expert Deborah Folka who explains what’s newsworthy, and how to ensure your topic gets strong coverage.

Many professional service firms produce news releases about ‘news’ that isn’t of interest to anyone beyond their own front doors. Hint: news of someone making partner isn’t of great interest to many outside the firm or perhaps the individual’s family.  On the other hand, often there is much going on at a such firms that can be of great interest to other professionals, other sectors, trade media and bloggers and even to the mainstream media and the general public.  But how do you decide what’s newsworthy?

Just because there are now literally thousands of communications vehicles available to us doesn’t mean the classic definition of “news” has disappeared. “News” to social or traditional media still means newly received or noteworthy information, especially about recent or important events.  The trick has always been – and it’s even more challenging today — how to package your firm’s news so it’s recognized as newsworthy and valuable to the audiences you want to reach.

As an illustration of the way your pro-active firm media strategy should work, let’s consider how newsworthy you could make the outcome of a recent survey. Along with a well-known scholar at a local university, let’s say your firm has commissioned a survey about a very hot human resources topic and the results are unexpected and very interesting.   First, you draft a short news release about the top-line results, quoting the expert and your firm’s expert and set up a link to your website where the full survey report can be accessed.

But before you hit “send” on that news release, think through your media strategy carefully. Is there a reporter at one of the major daily publications or broadcast outlets who regularly covers this topic?  Would you like to offer an exclusive interview with the scholar and your in-house expert?  If that makes sense, you will want to explore the opportunity with a few phone calls before a general release of the information.

Your “general release” needs to be strategic, too. Don’t just use a purchased media list that may (actually, likely will) be outdated and not targeted enough.  Take the time and allocate the resources to having a current and narrowly cast list created.  Include appropriate and recognized expert bloggers, scholarly publications, trade journals, professional associations, key websites, Twitter feeds and a LinkedIn post, along with a careful combing of reporters and columnists at traditional media outlets who would likely be interested in your newsworthy survey.

Don’t forget to make sure the partner at your firm and the academic involved disseminate news of the survey through their own blogs, LinkedIn postings, Twitter feeds and any other social media channels they regularly use. Update their website profiles, too.

Beyond your release of the survey results to the media, think about other ways in which you can use the survey to leverage your firm’s work in this area. Is there a conference coming up at which you could present the findings?  What about a firm seminar you could host for clients?  Cross-pollinate your marketing by inviting a related firm or organization to co-host a seminar or panel.  Suggest a presentation to your local Chamber of Commerce, Board of Trade or other business group.

Once you’ve done all you can to get the news out about your survey, take the time to review the results of your efforts. How many articles were published or posted?  How many ‘likes’ or re-postings or linking’s?  How was the attendance at the firm seminar?  What was the feedback from participants?  The information you glean from your review will inform how you publicize the next “news” generated at your firm.

Deborah Folka, APR, is an independent communications consultant based in Vancouver. She can be reached at