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:

1. Milestones

As Metrorail in Houston anticipated its 20 millionth rider, the transit agency was ready to thank 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 chose to honor Senator Dianne Feinstein with the Society's first-ever National Distinguished Advocacy Award.
 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?

3. Events

What special days, weeks and months exist within your industry? You can contact your trade association to find out. Or you can search for Chase's Calendar of Annual Events, which will tell you, for example, that:

• March 30 is Doctors Day
• July 26 is the birthday of Bert, the Sesame Street character
• 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 70th birthday of Michael Tilson Thomas and his 20th year as music director.

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 to give a keynote during 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 performs a Safety/Preparedness Review, invite the media in to video and take pictures while covering the "story" when you receive your report. 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 device in operation.

5. Surveys

The media loves studies, particularly because they are hungry for content as they try to fill a 24 hour news hole. 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 social services agency could poll local residents for data on housing issues. A trade association could do a survey on how many people understand recent legislation affecting their industry.

If your company does 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 tweet, run an item in a newsletter, distribute a news release, make a Facebook post, or place an ad in the local paper. What about doing a tie-in with the end of the school term? You could lead with, "We got our report card!"                 Back >