What really makes a story hit the headlines?

Honest Communications, a specialist garden and home PR agency, social media management, content creation and communications agency

We’re always keeping an eye and ear on the news; staying up to date with the latest goings on and making sure we’re aware of the current stories or events that may affect our clients and the industries we work in. Over the past couple of years, though, we’ve noticed the term ‘news’ being used rather loosely – venturing from the hard-hitting stuff we would usually associate with being newsworthy.

Take the past 18 months for example. On one hand we have hard-hitting headlines keeping us all informed of the need to know information about COVID-19, its devastating effects and the regular government announcements. No-one can deny that’s news. Then, on the other hand, some media outlets find interest in reporting on other arenas – whether it’s documenting the lives of the rich and famous, keeping us informed on what’s happening in the world of sports or revealing all on what Kate Middleton has said about her new niece, Lilibet.

Although the frivolous stories of our favourite celebrities can distract us from what often feels like doom and gloom, it’s not quite what we’d believe to be a breaking news story. But, with so many of these headlines flying around – from Beyonce debuting a new hairstyle to Prince Harry’s latest antics – it’s worth thinking about what really makes something worthy of hitting the headlines.

The 8 news principles

For a story to be considered newsworthy, there are eight general guidelines that journalist’s value. Without any of these engaging hooks, it can be difficult to drum up any coverage, so it’s important to keep them in mind!

These guidelines are:


With social media and the instant connection it creates, getting your story out there as soon as possible is more important than ever before. Talking about something that happened a week, or even a few days ago, isn’t going to get the same attention as real-time, current news.


The more people that will be affected by a news story, the more impact it will have, and, ultimately, the more coverage it will generate. If you’ve got a niche story, it’s very unlikely that it’s going to drum up the same amount of noise as a national shortage of food or medicine – but that’s not to say that niche isn’t always best. That’s where the next principle comes in.


The more unusual your story is, the better. The most unusual, shocking and revealing stories are usually the ones seen as headline gold.


Whether it’s climate change or veganism (or any other topic gaining a lot of traction), if your story relates to it in some way, it’s sure to be a newsworthy piece!


A broken-down bus in a small town in Cambridge isn’t likely to be of interest to anyone in Nottingham. Keeping stories relevant to the right audiences, in the right region, will determine whether a story is viewed as newsworthy or not.


Well-known figures and events are always grabbing the attention of journalists (which explains the heavy presence of celebrities and the Royals in the UK media) and often adds an element of newsworthiness to stories. Adding a human element to a story can often make them more engaging, but it’s important to remember that the likes of a local celeb, or even Katie Price probably won’t stir up as much coverage as Meghan Markle or Hollywood A-Listers, so expect coverage to reflect their familiarity.


A disagreement between two parties always seems to make for a great news story. Whether its disgruntled workers protesting against their employer or activists opposing new government legislation, readers always like to choose a side and often become invested in how the story plays out.

A story doesn’t have to represent all eight news values to be viewed as newsworthy – it can simply be seen as a conflict for it to catch the eye of a journalist. So, a Royal feud might be of more interest than a donation to a local food bank! Although the more values your story meets, the more coverage it’s likely to generate.

As a PR agency, it’s our job to create newsworthy, shareable content that will grab people’s attention and put our clients in front of the right people and crafting copy that creates a story worth shouting about takes a lot of time and skill. Find out more about our PR services here, or get in touch if you’d like to have a chat about how we can help.