People have been buzzing for a week about Jennifer Wilbanks, the 32-year-old runaway bride-to-be, who bolted from Atlanta four days before her wedding and set off a massive search by police and the FBI.
This story screams for letters to the editor, opinion columns and expert opinion on radio and TV talk shows from authors, speakers, mental health workers, the law enforcement community and anybody who pays taxes.
By now, you know all the details. Wilbanks, who had vanished last Tuesday after saying she was going out jogging, initially told authorities she was abducted. But she later admitted she took a cross-country bus trip to Albuquerque, N.M., to avoid her lavish, 600-guest wedding, which was to have taken place Saturday. She called her fiance from New Mexico and, on Saturday, was escorted to a plane that took her back home to Atlanta.
Authorities befriended her. On her way home, she was seen wearing an FBI hat, blazer, polo shirt and pants and carrying a new tote bag and a white teddy bear, a gift from the aviation police chief. She flew first-class, thanks to a ticket bought by her parents.
Publicity Hound Steve Majewski of Marlton, New Jersey sent me this link to the story, illustrated by an accompanying slide show of 50 photos that show police searching sewer grates and grassy fields.
Take a quick run through the slide show. Then weigh in with local and national media with your opinion. Here are some ideas on how to capitalize on this story:
–Mental health workers should comment on what should be done with the runaway bride. Would she be better off with private counseling instead of a very public jail sentence? Or both?
–Law enforcement officials can comment on what their departments are doing to help people in crisis. Are they usually as understanding as the police in Albuquerque?
–Do you pay taxes? If so, should Jennifer or her family be forced to pay for the massive manhunt that involved local police and the FBI? Should she be charged?
–Do you sell products or services to the wedding industry? If so, have you ever been stiffed at the last minute by a jilted bride or groom? Do you always have a contract? And if something like this happens, is it ever difficult to collect?
You can come up with more ideas. As for me, I think she sounds like a selfish brat who should be sent to jail without her teddy bear. And make her pay for tying up all those police and FBI agents for days.
Before you weigh in with your opinion, learn how to write a letter to the editor or op-ed so that you get the most publicity possible. See “Special Report #4: How to Write Crisp, Compelling Letters to the Editor”