Business Continuity Tip of the Month

In search of the TRUTH

A previous tip (‘No news is bad news’) suggested that it’s the media, not the crisis-struck organisation, that gets to decide whether a story is newsworthy or not. But how exactly do they decide?

Well, it’s quite simple really, journalists are looking for the ‘TRUTH’.

Before you fall off your chair or start to rant and rave in disagreement, there’s something important about the TRUTH in this context that you need to know. And that’s the fact that the word TRUTH is an acronym that provides a guide to what a journalist sees as news.

‘T’ stands for Topical. A story is topical if it’s ‘of the moment’. So your story might be more newsworthy because it fits with a prevailing theme or if a link can be made with something else that’s currently in the news.

‘R’ is for Relevant. Relevant to the journalist’s audience, that is. This may be a particular age group, gender, interest, lifestyle, demographic or geographical area, for example.

‘U’ stands for Unusual. If it’s out of the ordinary (and most crises are, by definition), a journalist is likely to be interested.

‘T’ is for Trouble. Yes it’s true, journalists do like conflict. Because, quite often, their readers, viewers or listeners find a bit of conflict interesting too.

‘H’ stands for Human. Journalists like stories about people. So if people are affected in some way, there’s probably a story in it.

For a journalist, the ideal story will contain all of the above elements. But they may be happy with three or four of them, particularly if it’s the proverbial ‘slow news day’.

So, whilst you might think your crisis isn’t particularly newsworthy, running it through the ‘TRUTH’ test might give you a different perspective and, importantly, allow you to plan your response accordingly.
With thanks to Mentor Communications Consultancy and Magnus Carter, whose book ‘Managing the Media’ inspired this tip.