What Makes a Good Human Interest Story
Human interest stories are typically about extraordinary people or ordinary people who have done extraordinary things. You may not realize it, but you read human interest stories all the time. From the hundreds of thousands of stories by Humans of New York to the heartwarming stories that air on Good Morning America, human interest pieces are everywhere and they fulfill our natural human curiosity about the lives of others.
By tapping into this emotional desire to connect with others, your brand can use human interest stories to connect with your audience on a level much deeper than the products or services you’re selling. These stories humanize your company — they show the faces and tell the stories of the people who matter to your brand.
While most marketing professionals understand the value of human interest stories, many struggle to understand what makes a good, press-worthy piece. It’s important to remember that everyone has at least one good story to share — whether they realize it or not. It’s our job as marketing professionals to discover what story that is.
Here’s a list of the top 4 characteristics every good human interest story usually has, along with examples of our own media hits for our healthcare client, Saint Agnes Hospital. If you can identify a unique story for your company to tell that has all (or most) of these characteristics, you may just uncover your next big news hit.
Reporters are always tuned into stories that are timely – whether they’re centered around a holiday, a hot topic or a major event. Find ways to insert yourself into relevant and timely conversations. That’s what Vitamin did for our client Saint Agnes Hospital during American Heart Month in February. Hattie Carter, who previously suffered from high blood pressure and heart disease, was profiled in local newspapers about her involvement in Saint Agnes’ Heart-to-Heart program and her journey back to good health. Not only did her story promote the hospital’s program, it also tied into the bigger national conversation of heart disease and the Valentine’s Day holiday.
2. Local Focus
If you have an exciting story that is unique to a specific community, the local media in that area are likely to be very interested. For example, Vitamin secured an award-winning human intereststory in the Howard County Times about a woman who is more than just a Howard County resident – she is a community leader. Tami Scovitch is a volunteer firefighter at a local station and had organized many fundraising events for residents in need. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer, the Howard County community came together to raise money for her treatment at Saint Agnes Hospital. This heartwarming human interest story about the strength of a community made the front page of the Howard County Times.
3. Community Impact
Everyone loves a feel-good story about neighbors helping neighbors. Take Carole Ferrante, a high school gym teacher and Saint Agnes bariatric surgery patient who used her life-changing weight loss experience to start a weight loss program for others in her community. Her story highlighted the positive impact of Saint Agnes’ bariatric surgery program and provided an emotional connection to her community peers.
The easiest potential human interest stories to spot are the ones that are rare. The media love to be the first to break news and share content that no one else is talking about. If your company has a story to share that hasn’t been talked about before, you have a high chance of securing coverage. When our agency heard about the story of Heidi the dog who sniffed out her owner’s lung cancer, we knew we had an incredible story to share with the media. Rare stories offer a wow factor that the media just can’t pass up.
As you search for your next human interest story, keep these four characteristics in mind so you can more easily evaluate the newsworthiness of your ideas. You can also consider things like stories that share an act of courage, unsung heroes or pets that can build a press-worthy story.
Looking for help finding your next human interest story? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.