Think You Have No News to Tell? Think Again.

PUBLIC RELATIONS
Think You Have No News to Tell? Think Again.
by Carol Klimas
E
ver wonder why certain organizations seem to always be
in the news in some way shape or form? For some, coverage is determined by the sheer size of the organization and
its market dominance. Microsoft comes to mind as the best
example of a company with an endless stream of news coverage in print, TV, online and radio.
But what if you're not Microsoft? How do you help your
organization stay front and center with the media when it
seems you've exhausted all of your pitch ideas and just don't
have any news to tell?
Many organizations will simply bide their time until they
have something “newsworthy” and then issue the obligatory
press release. This works well if you have a steady supply of
jackpot winners, promotions, new business openings, etc. If you
hit a dry spell, however, and can't seem to muster up news, there
are a few tried and true ways to unearth fresh story ideas and
keep the coverage coming.
Studies, Surveys and Statistics
In today's 24/7 news environment, media outlets are hungry
for timely, interesting or unusual information. Therefore,
there are myriad opportunities to secure media interest
simply by generating information through the use of studies, surveys and statistics and packaging the information in
a clever way.
One story that recently made national news was a study
conducted on cell phones to determine how many germs live
on phones and whether or not the ubiquitous cell phone is
a health hazard. The study concluded that a cell phone
contains more germs than the bottom of one's shoe and that
it is prudent to change out your cell phone often. It comes
as no surprise that the study was funded by - you guessed it
- a cell phone manufacturer.
Conducting studies, surveys and gathering statistical information yields a wealth of fodder for story opportunities. And
these don't have to be expensive or serious research projects.
Setting up and launching an online survey for example,
whether to community members, guests or even internal
audiences, is one of the most cost effective ways to gather data.
Consider launching a survey to guests about their favorite
item on your buffet, or orchestrating a write-in contest for
bingo players to see who has the most unique gaming superstition. When the results come in and show that guests
prefer prime rib three-to-one over shrimp and that four out
of five bingo players have a good luck charm, develop a
lighthearted pitch to reporters who cover dining, gaming or
entertainment noting the interesting findings. Reporters
will often respond well to such fun stories, just be sure to keep
34 Indian Gaming
September 2006
the back-up data and results to validate your findings - even
if they are somewhat tongue and cheek. Who knows,
perhaps your interesting survey will become an annual event
with a reoccurring story.
Look Outside
Another way to generate coverage is to step outside of your
organization and take a look at what is currently being
covered in the broader news landscape. At the moment,
high gas prices, conflicts in the Middle East and airline
security dominate daily headlines.
While much of this news may be controversial, consider
how your organization can weigh in on timely issues in a
positive way. For example, do you offer a free shuttle service
to your properties to help guests save on rising fuel costs? If
so, pitch a local entertainment reporter on the top 10
destinations in your area that don't require getting in your
car and driving. You may have to do a bit of research to
uncover other entertainment options and work with the
reporter to flush out the idea, but a story along these lines
not only highlights your property, it also highlights a great
amenity for your patrons.
With regard to more sensitive news stories, such as those
surrounding national security and conflicts abroad, you may
want to steer clear unless you have a significant positive
story to tell. Does your organization have a generous benefit package for returning reservist employees? Or are your
employees organizing a care package drive for soldiers
deployed overseas? These are important, positive stories to
tell about your organization and speak volumes about your
workplace environment - but it is critically important to
handle such news with the utmost care so as not to capitalize on tragedy, but rather to demonstrate concern. When in
doubt, focus on the less controversial news stories and brainstorm ways in which you can add an interesting twist to the
same old headlines.
Look Within
An often overlooked source for positive news stories is an
organization's own employees. Each and every individual has
a story to tell and oftentimes this story is compelling enough
to share with news media.
Here is how to uncover interesting employees to profile
in a story. First, ask questions. Find out who has worked with
your organization the longest or if multiple generations
within one family are employed with you. Ask members
of management if any of their employees have gone above
and beyond their daily job responsibilities to ensure an
“Conducting studies, surveys and gathering statistical information yields a wealth of
fodder for story opportunities. Setting up and launching an online survey for example,
whether to community members, guests or even internal audiences, is one of the most
cost effective ways to gather data.”
outstanding guest experience. A close examination of the
tapestry of employees will undoubtedly uncover new and
interesting story angles and can make an excellent pitch for
the local employment and business writers.
Second, be sure to follow any internal communication
guidelines and obtain permission from employees before
offering them up for a media pitch. Lastly, should the
reporter bite, ensure you help prepare the employee for a
successful media interview by walking them through what to
expect in the interview, what questions are likely and how best
to interact with a reporter. And then facilitate the interview
with the reporter and the employee.
Securing positive employee profile stories helps build
morale among existing employees and can often serve as an
excellent recruitment tool as potential candidates see the value
placed on your organization's staff.
Go Directly to the Source
When you're stumped for ideas, go directly to the reporters
you interact with on a regular basis. Ask them what interesting topics they have in the hopper and see if there is a way to
offer up a source or tie in to the story. After all, you never know
when the next Pulitzer Prize winning story is going to surface.
No matter how you uncover and generate story ideas, the
important thing to remember is to always be on the lookout for
opportunities for positive coverage. Whether digging up interesting facts and statistics, tying in your story to front page news,
or simply showcasing your employees, news opportunities are
all around you - you just have to know where to look. ¨
Carol Klimas is Associate Director of Public Relations for Off
Madison Ave. She can be reached by calling (480) 505-4527
or email [email protected]
September 2006
Indian Gaming 35
`