I’ve been writing a lot about how to get people’s attention. Sometimes I feel like that little kid who’s tugging endlessly on his mom’s skirt. He needs to tell her something really, really important, but this happens so frequently that the mom keeps doing what she’s doing. Finally, she’s momentarily distracted by the constant pulling and so looks down and says, if she’s nice, “What’s the matter, honey?” If she’s upset by the interruption, she’s exacerbated and huffs, “What do you want?” Either way, this poor kids has finally gotten her attention and announces that a dog has gotten into their picnic basket and done away with their entire lunch or whatever. Fill in the blank. The point is this: I think sometimes we as publicists are sort of like that innocent kid who just wants to get someone’s attention.
But as we know, constant tugging isn’t always the best way to attract attention. That’s because so many people in the media are accustomed to having their collective skirts pulled on. I hope that’s not a stretch for you. But it does raise an important issue about how to effectively communicate so that someone notices. Of course we want them to notice in the nicest way possible, so there’s that balance thing. You don’t want to be too forceful, yet you want to make an impact, too.
Here’s the subject line of a recent release that landed in my in-box: “A Silent Killer Waits in Your Driveway.” I sort of guessed that this would be about automobile-related accidents in which unattended children are killed. I’d just read something about this in our local paper, and I back out of my own driveway so often, always checking to make sure no kids are around. So it got my attention. Of course it conjured up a fairly macabre image, too, but there’s a lot of that going around, right?. But I think that was the writer’s point and I mentioned that in an email I wrote to her asking if I could reference her release in this post. So, the email subject line matched part of the press release headline and I just kept reading. Here’s the top of the release so you can see what I’m talking about (I’ve taken out the phone numbers):
For Immediate Release
Media Contacts: Stacy Miller Gail Ortiz
Child Care Resource Center City of Santa Clarita
A Silent Killer Waits in Your Driveway.
Motor Vehicle-Related Injuries Are the Leading Cause of Death Among Kids in U.S.
Local officials and VIPs take part in a powerful news conference to demonstrate
how automobile-related accidents kill hundreds of children each year and to kick off Purple Ribbon Month — which serves to remind drivers to never leave their children unattended in vehicles
After that, you get the what, where, when, who and why. Simple but not so sweet but an important event nonetheless. What really got me was the why part:
“Yesterday’s tragic death of a child in Santa Clarita has once again prompted CCRC to bring immediate awareness to its Matter of Minutes campaign. Matter of Minutes was launched by CCRC in 2005 after the untimely death of two children who were left alone in a vehicle in the organization’s service area. The goal of the campaign is to educate the 2.1 million residents serviced by CCRC – the Antelope, San Fernando and Santa Clarita Valleys – on the devastating effects of leaving children unattended in, or around, an automobile.”