The “So What?” Test

Do you ever think to yourself “who cares” when you read a social media post? Some of you may not want to admit it, but it is true. If someone you know posts on Facebook that they just drank a caramel mocha latte for breakfast, you might well say to yourself, “Was that something I really needed to know?”

so what

“So what?” is not a bad question to ask. Journalists ask it all the time. A news story must pass the “So what?” test. Media personnel know that their audiences will ask themselves this question when they watch or read a news article. So they have to make sure their stories pass this test.

What makes something newsworthy? Information is only newsworthy when it is tied into how it affects the reader.

If you are writing a press release or a publicity pitch, the news that you are releasing a book is not, in and of itself, newsworthy. What makes it newsworthy is how your book will affect the world (or in this case, the audience you are intending to reach).

The fact that Suzy Author just released her third book is not considered newsworthy by journalists because it does not pass the “So what?” test. Instead, a press release containing the story that marathon runner Suzy Author, who just ran her 15th marathon, can help you learn to pray with the same discipline that a marathon runner trains for a race, is newsworthy.

Recently, a press release from a small publisher crossed my desk. The press release was about the release of a book on helping people get out of poverty. Good topic. However, the news release was only about the book. It did not list a single statistic on poverty. Nor did it tie the importance of the book into what is currently happening in our society. Such a release will not pass the “So what?” test with journalists.

Next time you are crafting a press release, pitching the media, or drafting a marketing campaign, keep the “So what?” test in mind. Ask yourself why your audience would care about what you have to say. Remember that the news stories that attract attention are those that have some potential effect on the receiver.

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