Why people rarely want the coverage they get – or get the coverage they want

101 Challenges

The media is a fickle beast – but not half as fickle as the news-hungry public it serves.

During my days as a tabloid hack I was forever putting people in the papers who had absolutley no desire to be there.

It’s fair to say that when you are exposing crooks, conmen, cowards, drug dealers, love rats, fat cats, liars, child abusers, deviants, zealots, business swindlers, bent public servants and every other shade of dodgy ne-er-do-well, they’d rather be just about anywhere than on the pages of the tabloids.

Now I’m in PR you’d expect it to be just the opposite – that clients would all be desperate to appear in the biggest papers.

Somehow, though, it doesn’t play out like that. Sure, media relations is about getting clients into their target publications. But their media of choice is rarely what you may expect and it’s not always a case of biggest is best.

Take one client, for example, who only wanted to be in The Scotsman. Yet that did nothing for his business. On the other hand an unexpected article in the weekly freesheet attracted customers in droves. It turned out his perfect customers were ageing Morningside ladies of the sort who are oh-so -areful with their money, and therefore only read the free papers, before using them to line their cat litter trays.

Another recent examply really brought this home to me. I’ve been following the progress of the Vine brothers (Lee and Lindsay) from Fife. They will soon be heading off to Asia to spend six months of their lives performing 101 weird, wacky and wonderful challenges set and voted for by complete strangers on the internet.

Brilliant. If you haven’t already checked out there site, then do yourself a favour and click on http://www.101challenges.com.

Naturally I’ve folowed their quest for publicity with interest. As far as I know the brothers don’t have any PR support and are simply trying to drum up what media interest they can on their own. Good on them. They’ve already been in the Sunday Post, the Dundee Courier, BBC Online and made a very amusing appearance on the Fred MacAulay radio how.

However, I thought they’d hit the publicity jackpot when they got coverage in The Scottish Sun – which for the past year has basked in the position of Scotland’s biggest selling daily paper. However, much to my surprise (and I daresay to The Sun’s) the experience itself was a huge disappointment for the lads.

Firstly the brothers spent an hour jumping off a wall for a set of wacky photographs (one fractured a toe in the process). Yet when their story finally appeared three weeks later it was tucked away with only headshot images of the pair. And far from inducing a flurry of visits to their website, the coverage was met with … silence.

Afterwards the vine brothers wrote: “With regards to the coverage in The Sun, quite frankly we were extremely disappointed with it. We received no hits as a result of it and no emails, votes or challenges. Not one.

“The picture they ended up using was simply horrendous! We spent an hour jumping off a wall and they ended up using a tiny picture of our heads.

“We appreciate The Sun is a bigger paper with thousands of stories in each edition, but if you compare that column to the 60% of a page we were given in the Sunday Post, the same for the Courier and other media such as the BBC Website and Channel 4’s Bite show … The Sun column looked rushed, crammed, poorly constructed/edited, left out the point of the project and was totally uninteresting.”

Now I don’t want to have a go at The Sun, because I can’t think of a paper better suited to coverage of what the Vine brothers are doing.

However if I was Scottish Sun editor David Dinsmore or News Editor Alan Muir (both top operators with the Tabloid midas touch, as it happens) I’d be looking at the Vine brother comments and be quietly raging that the dreary old Sunday Post could possibly do a better job on a story like this.

I’ve seen the visits to the Vine brothers’ site rocketing as the public lap up the concept. I’ve heard the brothers on the radio and can tell you they are clever, articulate and far more entertaining than half the so-called celebs on TV. I’ve seen their photos and can attest they’re a couple of well-made and good looking lads. And I’m a regular visitor to the site so can tell they have the devil-may-care sense of fun and adventure that is exctly what The Sun is all about.

At the very least I’d thinkthere’s got to be a brilliant and funny feature in this for the Currant Bun – and that way both the paper and the lads might get exactly the kind of coverage they want.

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