According to the latest news reports (and I’m writing this on Sunday, October 10, 2010) we could see some of the miners who’ve been trapped in Chile pulled out of the mine that has been their home since August 5th. Although their health is reported to be “very good” you can be sure that we will be hearing more about their ordeal in the weeks to come.
You may think I’m addressing the following piece of advice to my fellow PR vultures, but truly, if you pay attention to the news headlines, you’re likely to find a place for your clients to shine or at least offer up their opinions. Are you taking advantage of someone else’s bad luck? No, this is business and truthfully, the Chilean miners’ stories will be very interesting. But what will make their stories even more compelling could be an expert’s insights. How will this experience affect their future work lives? How does that kind of semi-isolation affect one’s relationships? How will the families, who’ve been worrying and wondering for the past two months, help their loved ones with re-entry? In other words, when a tragedy strikes people (authors, college professors, think tank executives, etc.) with a particular expertise can not only inform but stretch the news story out as well.
Here are some of the issues that officials are concerned about: diet, loneliness, lack of physical activity, accessibility to medicines, etc. But if you’re going to pitch the media, you’ve got to get more specific than that. Producers and editors want to help their audiences learn something new. Does your client have something new to offer? Producers and editors want their sources to be articulate and provide fact-based information. Do your experts fit that bill? As you think about the mining disaster and other headlines that could present media opportunities for your clients, remember to be specific. An expert shouldn’t be well versed in everything (although I’m sure we could all come up with a few celebrity-type experts who might disagree).