This is Tip #28 in a series of ”50 Tips for Free Publicity” which I’m pinning on Pinterest. Follow me there, and if you like my tips, comment and repin.
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Here’s a chance for parents, nutritionists, pediatricians, eating disorders experts and educators to generate publicity by jumping into the controversy over “fat letters.”
It erupted last spring when schools throughout the United States started weighing students and sending them home with letters telling parents whether the child’s Body Mass Index score is in the red danger zone or the green safe zone.
It died down over the summer and has resurfaced now that kids are back in school. Many parents and children say they hate the letters because it affects a child’s self-esteem.
In Massachusetts, the “fat letters bill” currently before the state legislature would ban the state’s public health department from collecting data on height, weight or calculating body mass index in public school children.
Here’s a segment on this topic from “Good Morning America” this week:
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The 19 affected states include New York, Illinois, Arkansas, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, California, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi and West Virginia.
Publicity Ideas for Newsjacking
This controversy is perfect for newsjacking, the phrase coined by PR expert David Meerman Scott. It means injecting your ideas or angles into breaking news, in real-time, in order to generate media coverage for yourself or your business. Here are six of my ideas on how Publicity Hounds can newsjack this story:
1. Authors and speakers, if your books, workshops, keynotes or other presentations tie into this topic, lend your expertise and commentary.
2. Pediatricians and children’s health clinics, this story is perfect for you! What exactly, is BMI? And is it an accurate indicator of whether a child is overweight? Do you have a ready-made infographic that you can offer along with your comments?
3. Experts in eating disorders or dieting among children: You have valuable input to contribute. How young are some children who go on diets?
4. Educators, explain your reasoning for calculating the BMI at your school.
5. What about PTAs? Are you you hearing from angry parents?
6. Are you a parent who agrees with what the schools are doing? If so, say so.
Don’t forget about pitching guest blog posts, writing letters to the editor of local newspapers and magazines, and contacting your local TV stations.
What ideas do you have on how people can newsjack this story? What do you think of the controversy?