Five Ways to Create News
Many organizations could be more proactive about creating positive
publicity, but they believe they have "nothing to say."
The everyday activities that you often take for granted may be fascinating
stories to someone on the outside. Here are five techniques for
developing news even when your organization believes there is nothing
worthwhile to announce:
Metrorail in Houston anticipated its 20 millionth rider in early
2006, so the transit agency thanked patrons with prizes and entertainment
on "20 Millionth Rider Day ." When Rolling Stone magazine
published its 1,000th issue, the publication planned a huge party.
(In fact, Jann Wenner, Rolling Stone Founder, fired his publisher
over a dispute about the party location!) You don't have to create
negative news like that, but what about planning an event when your
organization reaches a milestone like:
• Your 10,000th patient?
• Your 15th anniversary?
• 1,000 days without an occupational injury?
• An employee's 40th year on the job?
2. Awards or Recognition
The American Cancer Society in late 2005 honored Senator Dianne
Feinstein with the Society's first-ever National Distinguished Advocacy
Could your company create an award that befits your industry? Is
there an influential ally who deserves recognition? Does your firm
ever receive awards or recognition? Does your agency ever get re-certified?
Does your school or facility receive accreditation? Why not publicize
those forms of recognition?
What special days, weeks and months exist within your industry?
You can contact your trade association to find out. Or you can look
for Chase's Calendar of Annual Events at your library, which will
tell you, for example, that:
• March 30 is Doctors Day
• July 26 is the birthday of Bert, the Sesame Street
• October is Computer Learning Month
What's an important day for your organization?
The San Francisco Symphony, for example, created a series of events
around the 60th birthday of its music director, Michael Tilson Thomas.
What can you do to take advantage of such opportunities?
An Assisted Living Facility could use National Nurses' Day (May
6) to stage an event to generate publicity by inviting the public
in for cake and punch; it could have a "cap ceremony"
where all the nurses wear the cap of their nursing school; it could
have some nurses wearing vintage nurse uniforms that day; it could
present an award for Nurse of the Year; it could bring in a famous
nurse and have her keynote a special program, for example.
4. Operational Activities
Why not take advantage of things that are an everyday part of your
operation as a way to make news and promote your facility? You can
have a huge impact if you can give a reporter an idea of what goes
on behind closed doors.
If your organization does a Safety/Preparedness
Review, when you receive your report, invite the media in to take
pictures and cover the "story." It will let your community
know that your facility is prepared for a disaster and it will exude
all sorts of confidence about your facility.
Think in terms of new equipment or new staff.
Issue a news release about an unusual piece of equipment that was
just purchased. Invite a reporter (and a photographer) to view the
machine in operation.
The media loves studies, particularly because today they are trying
to fill a 24 hour news hole and they are hungry for content. You
can fairly easily create a survey and share the results with editors
to generate coverage about your organization. Why not work in conjunction
with a local college to develop the survey and compile the data?
For example, a wireless telecommunications provider could poll subscribers
to learn how many have landline service as well. An adult learning
institution could do a survey on how many people over age 65 have
an e-mail account.
If your company does a customer satisfaction
surveys, are you telling your community what you're doing well,
based on the data from that survey?. How could you promote your
company as a result of those surveys? You could issue a news release,
run an item in a newsletter, send a direct mail postcard, place
an ad in the local paper. What about doing a tie-in with the end
of the school term? You could say, "We got our report card!"