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3. Is your company clearly an expert in studying, confronting or solving this problem?
If answer is yes to all three questions, you have a solid candidate for a threat that you can tackle in news media.
To work as a news story, threat must be something that will worry average reader or viewer. To work as a news source, you or your company must present itself as an expert about problem.
Here’s a very important point to remember about “expert” factor: It’s not necessary for you to have an immediate solution to problem. In fact, it’s usually better that threat not have an immediate solution.
Here’s an example from recent history: “energy crisis” from summer of 2001. For weeks, national news was dominated by soaring prices at gas pump and by rolling electrical blackouts along West Coast.
Judging from intensity of coverage, one might have thought civilization was about to end. Behind scenes, federal government took action to increase supplies of both gasoline and electricity.
Prices fell. Blackouts ended.
Suddenly, story was no longer a story.
Is problem gone? Of course not. The United States remains far too dependent upon foreign oil. But immediate threat was solved, and news value was destroyed.
The threat remains news only as long as it remains a threat. A solution resolves on-going news story, and thus kills its news value.
However, as an expert, it is good for you to propose a solution that is:
1. Innovative. You identify a problem, then propose a solution that other experts are missing.
2. In works. You identify a problem, then propose a solution that is plausible, but that will require commitment from someone important – public, government, private sector, etc. – to develop and produce. If you can demonstrate that your company is taking lead in discovering this solution, that’s even better.
The PR Rainmaker knows: When you choose a controversy, make sure it’s one with a long shelf life.
Copyright 2003 by W.O. Cawley Jr.
Rusty Cawley is a 20-year veteran journalist who now coaches executives, entrepreneurs and professionals on using the news media to attract customers and to advance ideas. For your free copy of the hot new ebook “PR Rainmaker,” please visit www.prrainmaker.com right now.