Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Make News to Become News

I recently sat in a meeting where it was suggested we could do some press releases about a new service and that people would sign up. I couldn't help but stifle a chuckle, and in the spirit of WWJD I thought WWRLD? My friend Richard Laermer, author of Full Frontal PR (2003), and Punk Marketing (2007), and 2011: Trendspotting (2008) is known for saying that PR doesn't happen overnight. There is no just-add-water scenario out there that is long lasting or truly makes an impact. The best way to garner news coverage is to be newsworthy. This got me thinking....

Most CEOs and product managers think their company and it's products are great. And well they should for they are the evangelists. But it is all too common for these people, and even good marketers, to get wrapped up in the wonders and greatness of their company without realizing they are a mile wide and an inch deep. They sit in conference rooms talking about superficialities without recognizing they lack the substance that the media needs to make a story.

Next time you're in one of those meetings -- where some well-meaning CEO or product person says, "Hey, this is big. We should get some press on this" you need to stand up, go to the whiteboard and write this question: What are we specifically doing to make this story newsworthy? From there you can make a quick list of things that you have to compete with such as (and this is what is in the news today): war, political upheavals, apartment fires, murder, scandal, elections, sports upsets, and union strikes. In these areas news is being MADE, it isn't happening.

To MAKE news you have to think in terms of impact, scope, reach, and players. You need to have several winning examples with quantifiable results, you need visuals (things that look good on camera), and you need a spokesperson who can clearly articulate issues and answer questions. It's not enough that you do something -- you have to MAKE what you do newsworthy. Sure, there's likely a small community newspaper or niche Web site that will be happy to publish your story -- but to hit the major media you need to DEMONSTRATE the IMPACT.

And then, once you've done all this, ask yourself if this story has already been covered -- if it's a been there and done that story. If so, get back to the start and find a new way to MAKE news to become news.

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