Do you watch, listen or read the news? Do you have your favourite news outlet? Do you not consume news because you feel it’s filled with terrible, sad and depressing events?

You know when you’re at a social event and people ask what do? In my almost 20 years as a journalist and public relations consultant, I’ve found opinions about the media and what makes news are rife. My job can certainly become a conversation starter.

However, if you’re not consuming news as a woman business leader or change-maker, then you should reconsider. Learn what makes news, consider offering your expertise or insight to the media which will, in turn, raise your profile and impact.

So here’s a quick “What Makes News 101 Crash Course”. If you’ve ever thought about media exposure, you’ll have a basic understanding of how the media determines what stories to tell.

What is newsworthiness?

• Timing

The word news is exactly like it sounds – it’s new. Topics which are current are good to think about when pitching news stories. Think about can you provide a different angle, an update, insight into current topics. Outlets quickly discard the old but journalists are always on the hunt for a fresh angle.

You need to think and act fast for topical stories or those with a date-frame. If it happened today, it’s news. If the same thing happened last week, it’s no longer interesting or out of date like sour milk.

• Significance

The number of people affected by the story vital. Think how many people are affected by say a new change to legislation or a tax hike. This is why train crash in which hundreds of people died is likely to receive more coverage than a crash killing a dozen. Is your story significant?

• Proximity

Stories happening close to us have more significance and are more newsworthy. In this day and age where technology has brought the world closer together, this doesn’t always mean geographical distance because where we feel at home or our community can be across international borders. Take for example the #Me Too stories and movement which women feel a bond with world-wide.

• Prominence

Famous people do tend to get more coverage simply because of their fame and profile. If you have a baby, it may not make the news, but Princess Kate of England having her third baby receives mass international coverage.

• Human Interest

There is an exception with human interest stories, which often disregard the main rules of newsworthiness. Human interest stories don’t date, don’t need to affect a lot of people and may not matter where in the world the story takes place.

Human interest stories appeal to emotion. They aim to evoke an emotional response such as empathy, sadness or inspiration. I love writing human interest stories. While the news is often grim, television news often place a humorous or feel-good piece at the end of the show to finish on an uplifting note, while newspapers will also have fun stories. I used to love writing these stories because they made me feel good too.

Top 3 tips for media exposure

1. Think strategically

Observe the media outlet that you want to appear. What type of stories do they cover? What angles could you provide that would appeal to them? Who is their target audience? Read comments if available from their readers on articles. Journalists, media organisations can get hundreds of pitches – often not relevant to their publication which can be off-putting.

2. Know your audience

It’s always about knowing your audience/clients and effective communication. Daily you’re talking to clients and it’s through this communication, you’ll find story ideas. Why did they come to you? What problems are they facing? What are their pain-points and how are you helping to solve these? These all form the basis for good stories. Sometimes we get bogged down with statistics but don’t lead with figures, weave them into the story and start with one person you can talk about who is part of that statistic.

3. Pitch your story & angle

Reach out and pitch a story to editors, other bloggers, podcasters to see if they would be interested in interviewing you or your contributions. However, make sure you do your research first to ensure you’re offering a relevant story and contribution.

If you’ve often thought about getting media coverage for greater exposure and impact, then reach out. Everyone has a story to tell and I’d love to brainstorm yours with you.