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Taking your study from good to great: The importance of identifying a news hook

Tyler Balkin

Case StudiesStudies or surveys are a great way for companies to gain credibility and showcase themselves as industry thought leaders. But sometimes companies don’t get the results they want or have more data than they know what to do with. And as a result, they produce a not so stellar study or at least not a newsworthy one…so they think.

However, any study can be newsworthy—you just have to find the right hook. A news hook can be anything from a piece of data that illustrates a significant issue to tying data to topic trending in the news.  Having a news hook will not only make your study stand out, but will also give it more value.

Identifying the news hook

If companies want to craft a news hook in the beginning stages of the study, the best place to start is at the questionnaire. At this stage of the process companies should think about what the potential news hook is and find a way to reflect the idea in their questions. Doing this means you avoid having to improvise later on when the study is completed.

But, if you’ve already passed the questionnaire stage and are working with tons of data, it can be difficult to find any sort of news hook. That’s where we come in!

Walker Sands is filled with “hook masters” you can say. A news hook doesn’t always jump out at us, it usually requires some digging, but we’re up for the challenge. Our clients are constantly producing studies and it’s our job to make sure they get coverage.  We spend time carefully analyzing all the data and figuring out the most attention grabbing angle. Whether it’s a 10 page study or a 40 page study, we’ll find the data that’s going to make it worthwhile to the media.

Take for example, Walker Sands' 2015 Future of Retail study. The initial data armed us with newsworthy insights on topics ranging from virtual reality to drones and mobile payments. What allowed us to gain media attention beyond the initial data was identifying hooks based on current events, like Amazon's announcement to offer free shipping on same-day delivery orders. 

The importance of a news hook 


A lot of companies think that they can throw an entire study at reporters and they’ll just figure out the most important information themselves. But reporters don’t want to waste their time sifting through all that data, they want to be directed to the “meaty” information right from the get go.

Presenting the whole study with no newsworthy angle is a little bit of a gamble. Most of the time without a targeted approach, the study comes off as lacking depth or too general to gain any traction. So identifying a news hook is your best bet.

While a news hook may seem like a tiny, unimportant detail in the large scheme of things, it actually plays a crucial role. Having a news hook is the difference between having a mediocre study and having an amazing study! And why would you settle for anything less than amazing?

Have any tips for identifying the news hook in a study? Share them with us @WalkerSands.