Have you ever heard the saying that ‘no news is good news’? This refers to the fact that most things that are considered ‘newsworthy’ are negative by definition.
We can see this when we think about the kinds of things that we typically need to know about. If the road is clear, then we don’t need to know about it: we can head off on our journey as usual. On the other hand, if the roads area busy and there is a traffic jam, then this is something we need to know about as it will affect our travel.
Likewise, it is not news that there are no terrorist threats imminently looming tomorrow. It is news however that there has been a terrorist attack or that one is suspected.
So, while not all news is bad news, it is certainly true that a lot of the things we hear about on the news are not positive. And thus, to listen to a typical news report, you might be forgiven for thinking that the world is in some kind of terrible downward spiral:
This ignores all of the things that are ticking along just nicely and is ultimately a misrepresentation of reality.
This can all mean that the news might seem like a rather bleak form of media to consume. If reading the news is inherently depressing, then this may mean that fewer people are inclined to do so.
Some of these pieces might fall under the category of fluff piece. A fluff piece is a small news item that is designed to be light and entertaining: often it will be funny or uplifting and this can help to soften the blow of a day of bad news.
Fluff pieces are generally unimportant but will still generally be ‘newsworthy’ in the sense that they are uncommon, interesting or unique.
All this should be considered for any PR firm. When trying to gain media coverage, consider the impact that your story might have in the broader context of the news. Bad news gets covered more easily because it is often in the public interest. However, you don’t want your company to be associated with bad news! The idea that ‘there is no such thing as bad publicity’ is not a mantra that a PR professional will subscribe to.
Similar to a fluff piece is another term called puffery. This is referring to a misleading advertising/PR practice of using hyperbole. Here, the important definition is to avoid being seen as false advertising, which is actually illegal and can incur a fine.
False advertising is generally considered to be the use of objectively false statements. For instance, saying ‘The world’s favorite’ might be considered misleading as it implies there has been a poll or survey. On the other hand though, saying that ‘9 out of 10 people said they preferred…’ is subjective and considered puffery.