Monday, 31 October 2011

The best way to be ignored by the media.

Every news room has a heart sink story, the one that keeps coming and coming like a great tsunami of rubbish news. These aren't just bad stories but they are uninspiring, dull and so hackneyed that no newsroom worth thier salt would even bother reading to the end of the press release. The difficulty is the stories are generally the ones that raise charities a lot of money.

Someone is going from somewhere to somewhere to raise money.

I could (and possibly should) set up a whole radio station that only covers people walking, hopping, skiing, flouncing, trotting, galloping, driving, riding from somewhere to somewhere to raise money for charity.

Every day it seems that hundreds of thousands of people go from Lands End to John O Groats, with their buckets and their sponsorship forms. I honestly think that there must be a slow moving queue running the length of the country.

No one cares any more.

It's very important to the people taking part but the average media consumer couldn't give a flying monkeys and the average journalist has covered the story so often that there is a possibility of developing stress related Tourettes and screaming obscenities at all concerned.

The newer version is driving an hilariously bad car to the armpit of the world and then giving it to the locals. There's an underdeveloped country somewhere filled with Austin Allegros and a very angry population "this car has a square steering wheel... lets start an insurgency!"

It's no longer new, interesting or funny.

Since news reporting began there has been the "journey for charity". In those days it may have been visiting the next door village to help them with their gene pool, these days it's riding a yak to Barcelona to help with IBS. It has all been done. However it's something that helps raise money, it's easy to organise and there is a slight possibility that a local free paper may pop a photo on page 18, so if you want to do it go for it, just don't expect the media to care.

So how do you pitch it to get featured? Well, this is where a little bit of story telling comes in. You don't explicitly pitch the event, you pitch what people actually care about and that's a story with emotional weight.

Let's try this on you...

A few years back I met Pete.

Pete and I were talking about mental health issues (it was world mental health day) and he told me about the day that he started hearing voices.

He was standing in his back yard; he'd been building a rabbit hutch for his kids pet and as he got up he felt a bit wrong, just unwell, he thought that he'd got up too fast but a voice in his head, a clear, distinct, voice in his head told him to go to the Dr.

He'd heard voices before but never this clearly and never this urgently.

He went to his Dr. and found that he had a kidney infection that was quite serious but could be cleared up, and from then on the voice in Pete's head stayed with him. It encouraged him to go to bed if he was a bit tired, reminded him of important appointments, it became his friend and he called it Ralph.

He never told anyone about it, and everything was fine.

He heard a voice called Ralph and everything was fine.

Then, one day another voice joined Ralph, only this voice wasn't kind. This voice was a little mean. It was the voice that told him that he wasn't any good, it was the voice that told him he'd never amount to much. Luckily though this voice only ever spoke to him when he was tired, or stressed, or off kilter.

Pete's life changed when he was driving home late.

He'd worked a long shift, and he was tired. Ralph had tried to get him through the day but this other unnamed voice kept pushing Ralph away. As Pete drove home the unnamed voice shouted in his head that he should go home, get a knife and kill his family.

He stopped the car.

Got out.

Threw up.

Drove home.

And told his wife of 10 years that he'd been hearing voices and they had told him to kill them all.

The next few weeks were a blur. He was placed into the mental health system and in the way of these things, he became a set of symptoms waiting to be sorted. He saw psychiatrists and councillors and doctors all trying to work out the best way to treat him... and all the time Ralph and the unnamed voice were fighting in his head for control  almost fighting for his soul.

Slowly the correct drug regime was found and the psychiatry started working and Pete began to get well again.

This is when he looked at me full in the face, he had tears in his eyes and his voice was cracking and he said to me "you know the worst thing? The drugs made me better... but they took away my best friend... they took away Ralph."

If I now tell you that I'm doing a sponsored walk. What are you going to do?

You could go here and show your support.

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