"So What?" – The most important question in PR for all eternity

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I’m giving a talk to some PR / Marketing students tomorrow about the impact new media / technology has had on PR (I’ll post the final presentation up on SlideShare tomorrow).

The strange thing is, the most simple, old, tried and tested slide is still the most powerful of the whole deck.

That slide is ‘the criteria for what makes news.’

And from that, the main message I want them to take out of the session tomorrow is: “So what?”

Why? Because, that is the foundation for compelling content.

No matter the medium.

The “so what?” test is just as applicable to the Editor of a Blog read by 300 people a day as it is to the Editor of The Sun which is read by 3 million people a day.

I won’t give away the whole presentation now (swing by tomorrow for that!), but here is the criteria for what makes news.

We use this as a ‘filter’ at Paratus. Unless we can confidently say that the majority of the criteria have been satisfied, we won’t let it fly.

TOPICALITY – What is the relevance, today, of the story?

PROMINENCE – Is the story extraordinary?
PROXIMITY – Is it relevant to the area the media covers?
CONSEQUENCE – So “whatness” (the big one).
CHANGE – What’s not the same anymore, does that matter?
ACTION -Is something actually “happening” of interest?
CONCRETENESS – What is tangible about the story?
PERSONALITY – Is there a human face of interest?
RARITY – Is it bizarre, unusual?
CONFLICT – Does the story cause a change / drive debate?
Thanks for dropping by The Comms Corner.


  • Reply December 6, 2009

    Lauren Fisher

    I agree that it’s important to ask yourself this no matter how big your audience is. I never write a blog post now unless it’s something I’d like to read myself.
    I don’t always think you need to apply strict criteria though. I think your first question of ‘so what’ is enough. If you can answer that, then you’ve got good content.

  • Reply December 6, 2009

    Adam Vincenzini

    Lauren, thanks for taking the time to read / comment.
    I agree – ‘so what?’ is what it’s all about – the other ones are there to help guide us in getting to the ‘so what?’ stage.

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