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The 'ST' Factor, with a dash of 'ONLY'

Amy Lawson - Thursday, May 12, 2011
'What the...?', I hear you ask. 
In a way, that's my case in point. Journalists are very busy people and the average news room gets 1200 media releases a day. So, if you're going to use the media release as a tool in public relations, then you had better make your point early, succinctly, and with a few key elements to grab the attention of your target media.

When journalists look for news, they are always thinking, 'why would my audience care about this?' News values are the key ingredients that make up a good news story, and I recently took a trip down memory lane to my days of studying journalism at university to recollect the eight key news values:
1) Impact - how big a deal is your topic?
2) Timeliness - if it's not new, it's not news - unless there are new developments to an old story
3) Currency - is it relevant to current issues and trends?
4) Proximity - people generally are interested in what affects them in their local environment. Look for the local angle
5) Novelty - the unusual or unexpected. Remember 'Dog bites man' versus 'Man bites dog'
6) Prominence - names make news, ie: extraordinary people doing ordinary things
7) Human Interest - The story of one person can be the hook for a larger issue, ie: ordinary people doing extraordinary things
8) Conflict - "Conflict, antagonism and tension are the stuff of human drama" - Sally White (1999), Reporting in Australia

It is important to work out what the news values of your story are before you try to "sell" it to a journalist. Consider the context in which you are releasing your story. No news happens in isolation. Journalists will put your event in the context of the last big thing and the next big thing.

Enter the 'ST' Factor. It is important to identify the "angle" of the story - the context the journalist uses to present the story. The "hook" is the point of entry to the story - often the impact or currency - and a good way of finding an angle is to look for the 'ST' Factor.

Is it the biggest, the fastest, the worst, the first, the last, the longest, the smallest, the most? Although it doesn't end in 'st', the word 'only' also fits here. One in two stories in the Australian Financial Review have the 'ST' Factor, and that ratio is 1:3 in other papers. Seriously, grab a newspaper and see for yourself. You'll be amazed!

The 'ST' Factor can relate to a number of news values, including novelty (eg: first), and here's an example:
"Less than a week to go before the Atlanta Olympics begin, just as our largest ever team is due to start its campaign for Australia's biggest medal tally, one of the athletics squad's best known names is claimed to have used drugs."
The Australian, July, 1996.

When pitching to our time-poor journalists, it is critical to be memorable and quotable, and keep your language brief and specific so your efforts aren't wasted as being just another of the 1200 media releases that came in today.

Happy pitching!

I would like to thank Amber Daines (@Ambieu777) for her input into this blog.

How to TAG business pages and friends in Facebook

Amy Lawson - Thursday, April 21, 2011
Tagging businesses and people on Facebook has become quite popular of late, and is a great tool for business to stay more top-of-mind with your friends and fans.

The ability to 'tag'. or electronically connect, Facebook pages and friends was actually unveiled in 2009 but it's become much more widely-used in the past few months.

I've come across this little video to outline what tagging's all about, why it's a good tool for business/Facebook page owners to adopt, and importantly, how to do it. Hope it helps to clarify a few things for you!

Implementing a Social Media Policy - Great Videos

Amy Lawson - Friday, April 15, 2011
Still not convinced about the power of Social Media?

Check out this brilliant informational YouTube video developed by the Victorian Department of Justice, for their employees.

Great to see a government department leading the charge from within on Social Media Policy implementation and integration. Catchy music too!

Click here to link through and view the Department's Social Media Policy for employees.

And here's another, which I just love!

Here's a case study of how a campaign built through social media led to worldwide donations to Charity Water, all to build wells and give African people clean and safe water to drink. A fabulous story, worth the five minutes of your time.

Crisis Communications and our Pollies

Amy Lawson - Saturday, February 19, 2011
It has been a fascinating experience in 2011 so far, observing our politicians and their response in times of crisis.
Queensland premier Anna Bligh, has been heralded for her handling of the devastating Queensland floods and Cyclone Yasi, and her very success in dealing with these crises has made our Prime Minister pale into insignificance.
There is a lot of be learned from these recent events: how they were broadcast to the public, the contrast in how these two politicians dealt with the situation, and the consequent public response.
Why did Anna Bligh succeed in this crisis so much? She was authentic, real, available, very very visible, and her mannerisms and even the fact that she wore jeans to press conferences made her look like a Queenslander - one of them. 
On the other hand, Julia Gillard came off wooden and scripted.
Lesson 101 in crisis communications: the spokesperson MUST show empathy, compassion and be genuine.
Trying to suppress real emotions requires a great deal of effort and is rarely successful. 

Social Media sparked and accelerated the uprising in Egypt this month, and this new digital communication demonstrated its power during the Queensland floods and Cyclone Yasi last month.
We are in the age of transparency. More and more this will be the case as Generation Y takes over the world - we've already seen it in Egypt.
Some supporting statements that I have picked up of late:
  • Trust is the "new black"
  • Our trust in corporate media has declined
  • No-one is an island anymore
  • Your crisis will become someone else's opportunity
  • Web is 4 times more credible than newspapers, 3 times more credible than radio, and 2 times more credible than TV
  • Nobodies are influencers today, and that's a huge cultural shift
  • News spreads like wildfire in a deeply connected network
  • We are compulsive storytellers, and Twitter/Facebook are our perfect platforms.
While crisis communications is changing in terms of platforms used and approach, the golden rule still hasn't changed: you have to respond, and fast - within one hour. This timeframe is even more critical today.

Link: Social Media Crisis Management Done Right: by Red Cross America 

Subscribe to Handshake Blog

Amy Lawson - Thursday, January 20, 2011

The RSS (Really Simple Syndication) system is a family of web feed formats used to publish frequently-updated works - such a blogs. RSS feeds have quickly become outdated, so how do you now subscribe to your favourite blogs?

Well, it's easy. Just visit Feed My Inbox and in a couple of quick computer strokes, you can subscribe to up to five websites - including blogs - for FREE!

Copy and paste this direct link to the blog feed in the top box named 'Website of Feed URL': http://lawsoncommunications.com.au/RSSRetrieve.aspx?ID=7469&Type=RSS20

Then, type in your email address where directed.

Now you'll never miss the latest post to Handshake!! 

G'day I'm Amy

Amy Lawson - Friday, January 14, 2011
So much about communication - particularly in agriculture - begins (and ends) with a handshake. A firm grip - but not too firm. Definitely nothing sloppy. And just as important is good eye contact.
"G'day, I'm Amy. Pleased to meet you."
Hence the name of Lawson Communications' new blog - Handshake. 

We hope you find our new blog of interest, as we put up stories about what's happening in our lives, travels, business, and that of our clients too. We'd love your feedback along the way.

Lawson Communications is going through something of a transition period. We've acknowledged the emerging power of Social Media and have just undergone a re-vamp of our six-month-old website. You'll find us on:
Twitter - @LawsonComm
Facebook - Lawson Communications Fan Page
YouTube - LawsonCommunications Channel
LinkedIn - Amy Lawson.

Lawson Communications has to date been based in an office in Amy's home - atop a hill (great views!) in the middle of the property on which she and her husband live. Our talented niche contractors have and will continue to play a pivotal role in Lawson Communications. However, growing demand for our services has signalled a requirement for change. We're about to open up an office - albeit a small one on this same property - and will bring on board a permanent marketing coordinator. Can't wait!

We look forward to communicating more via Handshake.

Until then...

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