Monday, 27 February 2012

"Make Sure She Cries!"

I clearly remember the day that I was leaving to talk to a family who had lost their father and husband to a terrifyingly fast form of Motor Neurone Disease. She was trying to raise money for the charity 'Winstons Wish' who had helped her and her children through the most awful time that a family can imagine.

I picked up my recording device, put my branded "I'm official" jacket on and was about to walk out of the news room when I heard my co-producer shout "Make sure she cries!".

Harsh, but fair.

Emotion sells, emotion fixes memory, emotion keeps you listening in the car with your shopping in the boot and the ice cream melting.

Emotion makes a human connection.

You need to ask yourself 5 questions to get the emotion into your press engagement.

1) What is the story?
Repeat it to yourself as you peel back the layers from your press release. What is the story? What is the story? The story is never what you first think it is because we are always asked to deal with the functional not the emotional.

2) Why should I care?
Not why should you... put yourself into the position of your audience and ask yourself "Why should I care?" "because" isn't an answer. This isn't a question of functionality this is a question of an emotional response. "Care" is not the same as "interested".

3) Where are the people?
It's not about things it's about people. You need to find the people. Are they the consumers, the producers the stake holders? What has their input been, how do they feel about it?

4) Should I tell the story?
Why are you writing about this? You may have never been involved or even care about what you're trying to get out there; so get the people that DO care to write it. Interview them, get their words, not a corporate quote but their story behind the story that you're pitching. If you're a charity or not for profit, get the case study out. The power of the normal person who has been affected (good or bad) telling their story in their own words should not be underestimated. It takes away the filter of PR and gets the audience closer to the action.

5) Should I make them cry?
Don't try. The journalists and the audience will see through you if you try, but if that is your genuine response then it will without a crude manipulation.

For more on "Journalist Whispering" Join the seminar.

£55 per person including VAT (£44 excluding)
09.30 - 12.30, Thursday the 15th of March.
Gloucestershire Enterprise Training Centre, Twigworth Court Business Centre, Twigworth. GL2 9PG

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