Publicity – How To Get Journalists Calling You!


Getting great publicity is precious to a small business. Here’s how it happened for me lately, and how we learnt about the influence a great ‘hook’ can have.
coffins-24-1024x685 I, along with my colleagues Kate Clark and Karen Collins had organised a pop-up event to acknowledge national Dying Awareness Week in an empty shop space in our local shopping centre. Preparing for it the week before, we had brought in one of Karen’s beautiful willow coffins, made locally. We’d put it slap bang in the middle of the window, thinking this would definitely intrigue people.

And it did.

Just not in the way we had hoped.

My heart sank; but it soon soared again as I saw the funny side.  Despite negotiations it became apparent that the landlord (who had asked us to move everything out of the unit) was not going to budge, and we couldn’t find another location.

I sent a further press release to the papers who had received the first one, outlining the event and the schedule of fascinating talks we had put together.

Suddenly, the phone was ringing with journalists on the other end. P&J

The cancellation of an event about death due to complaints about a coffin was too ironic for them to miss. So today, here we are on the second page of the Press and Journal (the Northern Scot also photographed us yesterday for their issue tomorrow) having raised awareness of the idea of death, with far more publicity than we would have managed otherwise!

And then taking down the display this morning, along with my banner done especially in a hurry for this event.  Honestly, you just have to laugh!  IMG_1365

So what do you do when nothing goes as expected? Well, you say:

“Oh. Right. Okay, this means a change in plans. Let’s organise that and then look to see what we’ve learnt and what steps to take next.”

(Well, that’s the ideal scenario; sometimes there’s quite a lot of emotion that hangs around too, although the predominant feeling for us was one of laughter at the result of all our careful planning!)

So what was the difference between the first press release and the second one, cancelling the event?

The first had little sensational value (yes, it was Dying Awareness Week and it was a local event but there was nothing else that was of particular interest). The second had that sought-after ‘hook’ that journalists are looking for.

The second had that sought-after ‘hook’ that journalists are looking for. In this case the hook was not just the coffin in the window, but the complaints themselves, and the irony of an event about death being cancelled because of a complaint about a symbol of death itself. Plus there were obviously two points of view here – those who didn’t mind seeing a coffin with their coffee, and those who did.

Moral of the story:  find that hook!  The more sensational it is, the more likely the journalists will be ringing you up.

For your interest, here’s the list of the talks that would have been, and contact details, just in case you want to follow any of them up.

Before I Go: Practical Questions to Ask and Answer Before You Die – (this was my talk – you can get the book here and still come to a local workshop here)

Speaking to Children/Creating Memories Jill Stewart, CLAN

Caring for a Body At Home After Death – Kate Clark, Pushing Up the Daisies

Green Burial – What’s Different?  Will Russell, Wilkies Wood Green Burial Site

Funerals Don’t Have to Be DullEve Baillie, interfaith minister

Coffins – Karen Collins, Naturally Useful

How to Save £2000 on Your Funeral – Kate Clark, Pushing up The Daisies

If you have any stories about journalists, getting publicity or sensational stories, post them now and let me know!