As I studied various principles of public relations and journalism in college, part of our required courses was a Media Ethics class. During this class, we were encouraged to critically discuss the ideas and principals of journalism and how we would respond during ethical dilemmas. At its heart, storytelling –no matter the form – has an obligation to the public to share experiences of all kinds and give a voice to the voiceless stories that often go untold.
Part of a PR agency’s function is to help identify stories that will give our clients the most media value possible. We share the powerful stories of veterans who witnessed history, charities who have been helped or programs created from a need that arose. Other stories are more fun and bubbly and showcase a different and accessible side of the client. Some months may be filled with fantastic speakers or residents to showcase and other months may be quieter. During these “down” months, there are still plenty of stories to tell, they just may not be as obvious.
Is there a volunteer who is celebrating an anniversary or should be recognized for their outstanding efforts? Have you recently revived an existing program or began working with a new group? To those working internally for the organization, this may not sound like big news. But in my experience, these types of stories are just as well-respected and wanted by the media. Why? They show the heart of the community. Those activities you do every day and the folks that help make them possible are what makes each client or community unique, and it’s important to tell that story.
Recently, a community we work with that is scheduled to open a new location was at a loss for ideas for their monthly PR focus. They were so busy getting construction finalized and staff hired that some of the programming had not come together just yet. We suggested to them that a call to action for volunteers and community organization support could be a great option for them.
As a new community, they’re looking to establish partnerships and activities that will help their residents thrive. When pitching this story to a reporter, it’s important to emphasize to them that when they help us tell this story, they’re impacting the lives of dozens of seniors whose lives will be given purpose and meaning from each connection created by this story.
So while story ideas may be plentiful one month and not so much the next, it’s important to think through and hold creative discussions with each client to uncover the often untold stories; for those are usually worth telling the most.