Dunn’s Blog: What’s your story?

In media relations, happy endings start with a focused story. The sharper the focus, the more likely your story will hit its target.

Let’s say you’re marketing a luxury homes development in the Okanagan, and forest fires are burning a few kilometres away from your door. Still, you want to get homes editors’ attention about your great project during the prime summer selling season. However, the standard real estate news release about your glamorous kitchens, adjacent vineyards and stunning lake views isn’t going to get pick-up while your community is in a state of emergency.

But you don’t give up and pray for rain. No, you switch horses in midstream and find a way to merge with the current media agenda. In this case, forest fires. You develop a news release that extols your fire retardant building materials and your low-water landscaping. You take a high-resolution photo that illustrates these materials. The fire-retardant building story gets picked up by both the Vancouver Sun and the Edmonton Journal, as well as local newspapers.

Emboldened by success and recognizing that media are interested in writing about sustainability, especially with an interesting, fresh angle, you send a like-minded journalist a short note about your project’s green features. You emphasize that your homes occupy a smaller ecological footprint than the majority of new homes in the Okanagan region, using less energy and requiring less building material. This strikes a chord with the journalist and your story receives coverage—with photos!—in the Globe and Mail.

Wanting to continue the PR momentum for your homes through the winter, you dress up your show home with festive Christmas decorations. You send a note to homes editors proposing a holiday show suite feature, and the editor, hard-pressed for seasonally appropriate content during the generally quiet Christmas season, says yes, please send me a selection of jpeg images to illustrate such a feature. By doing so, you get a third round of media coverage for your year-old show home.

You’re so pleased you give your PR consultant a raise! (Okay, I imagined that bit, but the rest of this post is true.)