When I worked in the world of newspapers more than 10 years ago, we’d get the occasional call from a publicist telling us that somebody was walking, or running, or getting down on his hands and knees and pushing a peanut with his nose through our town, and they wanted us to cover it.
You can guess what our answer was. So I wasn’t surprised when Dawn Swidorski emailed me this morning to tell me about a similar problem.
“I’m currently representing a non-profit foundation—the Executive Director (a 60-year-old insulin dependent diabetic) is currently undertaking a 10,000-mile perimeter walk of the United States to raise awareness about diabetes. He’s completed 6,900 miles of his walk. The media coverage has been pretty good so far with one exception. I can’t get a MAJOR market daily newspaper to cover this guy.
“When I’ve been able to address potential objections to the story I get ‘Oh, we get hundreds of people each year doing something like that.’
“We even conduct significant community outreach and he conducts a variety of public appearances at diabetes peer support groups, fitness centers, health food stores, meets with elected officials, does engagements at local schools, etc.”
Here’s what I told her.
If you can round up some local diabetics to walk with him, perhaps at the local mall, the newspapers might be more interested in covering it, even though it’s still a long shot.
If you pitch the story and an editor thinks it isn’t worth a story, try calling the photo desk. In my ebook “How to Use Photos & Graphics in Your Publicity Campaign,” I tell readers to remember that all newspapers have what are called slow news day. Photographers have them too. So there’s always a chance photographers might bite.
Here’s another idea. How about offering the health reporter a quiz called “How to tell if you’re a diabetic.” Or a true-or-false test that readers can learn from. Sometimes those interactive exercises are a lot more interesting than a photo of somebody walking. And it accomplishes the same purpose–to call attention to the cause or issue.