While the importance of a good news hook will be familiar to anyone working in PR, if you fail to teach clients this simple but key concept of journalism, PR success may well prove elusive.

So what is a news hook? Put simply, it’s the peg that makes a story idea timely and draws in the audience, thus defining the idea as relevant and newsworthy. Take for example a family lawyer who wants the world to know that she’s an expert at drafting prenups. Even the most capable PR is going to struggle to make this idea of interest to the media. The good news is that sooner or later a news story will break around, say, a celebrity divorce or perhaps a royal engagement that may well make a feature on prenups topical and therefore attractive to a personal finance journalist.

In my niche of legal PR, news hooks are plentiful. As well as celebrity divorces, court decisions, Brexit, large scale redundancies and criminal investigations all provide opportunities for media savvy lawyers and barristers to provide journalists with comment and feature ideas. For other sectors, Black Friday and Christmas are two fast approaching events which may provide a simple hook to peg something to.

To maximise PR success, both agency and client should be on the look out for hooks.  Often a certain amount of lateral thinking will be required to spot the best ones. The article below in HR Magazine provides a brilliant example. The author, a lawyer specialising in employment law, has written about a plethora of workplace issues ranging from post traumatic stress through to unconscious bias and excessive working hours. The unlikely but clever hook is the BBC drama Bodyguard which proved to be a massive rating hit earlier this year. Watching the series, the author cleverly spotted that the chief protagonist encounters many issues that HR professionals reguarly grapple with.

One glaringly obvious but critical final point is to act quickly once a great hook has been spotted. With today’s 24 hour news cycle, what’s topical one day may well be old news the next.