June 24, 2008

When There Is No News…

Posted in A walk on the "dark side" tagged at 7:52 am by R

More than once a client has said to me, “So I’m having a party…” or “I just made a fifty dollar donation to…” and they think that it’s news. (Insert full-body shudder here.)

It’s then my sad duty to tell them — in the nicest way possible — no respectable member of the media gives a crap about a get together or a donation that isn’t followed by a significant amount of zeroes. It’s then my duty to say something constructive like, “But let’s think of some other unique ways we can get your company’s name in the news.”

And just how do you find ways to do that? I’ve come up with a few tricks I’m willing to share.

  1. Read, read, read: Get your nose in every paper, magazine, industry newsletter, mainstream website and celebrity blog you can find. (Yes, seriously celebrity blogs. I’ve had at least two ideas from a certain Mr. Hilton’s blog generate fantastic stories.) Brilliant ideas show up in unlikely places. It’s up to you as a PR practitioner to scavenge for opportunities to plug your clients into the news and create valuable media angles.
  2. Get Creative: Is there a current event with an angle that’s been untapped? What questions are you asking as you read articles about a client’s industry? Does your client have the answer? Go beyond the face value of an article. Did a quote or a certain line trigger a new idea or perhaps not address something your client is an expert on? Asking these questions and providing your feedback about a story gives you an opportunity to create a relationship with the reporter based on their work and it will get them to rethink their latest creation in terms of your client. Bingo!
  3. Get to know the employees and customers: The behind the scenes people are the ones who give a brand character. TELL THOSE STORIES! Does the CFO do some amazing work with a charity? Did the executive assistant just finish her first marathon? Has the building operations manager overcome something extraordinary? Are there a group of employees who stand out (all female execs, three brothers, mother-daughter, father-son, twins)? Has a particular customer appealed to the team internally? Chances are if that story resonates internally, it’s likely to touch other important audiences.
  4. Get behind an issue: It’s an election year. Now is a great time to stand for something. Every city and region has its own important issues and it’s vital for you to know what they are and how your client(s) can appeal to audiences who have a strong steak in the topics that are emerging in this election. Is it green? Is it economy? Is it immigration? (Actually, maybe don’t go there.) The point is stand for something, even if it’s just as simple as VOTE. (That may actually be the most important issue of all 😉 )
  5. Be Controversial (if you dare): This is not for everyone. Many clients just aren’t prepared to play the part of instigator. This point goes hand-in-hand with #4. You have to stand strongly for something and insert yourself into a current event. It’s playing devil’s advocate in the public eye. If your client has a strong stance, a bold spokes person and their brand has a thick skin, this can be a great way to get publicity. But PR pro beware, this has potential to backfire, so play your cards VERY carefully.

Next time you are faced with a truly frightening PR suggestion, breathe, and look around you, there are story ideas seeping out of every page (web and print). Use what’s in the media to create an advantage in the media.




  1. Dan Waldron said,

    Thanks for posting the article, was certainly a great read!

  2. your blog is brilliant!

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