How to make a news story go viral: the pizza factor

How do you get people to share news stories? Approach topics by way of common denominators – ones that cross cultures and continents – says S. Mitra Kalita, Ideas Editor at Quartz. Pizza was key in making hard-news stories from India and Africa attractive to share, she tells the 13th International Newsroom Summit.

by WAN-IFRA Staff | October 14, 2014

A “sense of sameness” makes the reader feel “part of the story,” says Kalita.

She also says the time to think about getting people to share a story is when it is conceived – not when the reporter is finished writing it.

To illustrate both points: When Quartz decided that it needed to cover the elections in Kenya, it was clear that the usual distant, colorless piece with survey results and quotes from the candidates was out of the question. Nobody would relate to a story like that, so nobody would share it.

So a reporter interviewed an entrepreneur who had invested a lot of money in a pizza operation in Kenya and was scared of the possible effects of the election outcome on the business climate in the country. The approach worked – the story was shared.

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