PR Notes- Media Perspective on Story Pitches

PR professionals often believe statistics are powerful pieces of information to the media. For example, of those infected with HIV/AIDS in King County, approximately 1 in 7 don’t even know it. The following excerpt from a top-tier TV reporter provides an interesting perspective regarding story angles:

From CNN Reporter Soledad O’Brien:
“Some PR professionals will present their ideas based on a statistic—one in five kids is living in poverty, for instance. No one ever has their heart ripped out of them because of a statistic. The stories I want to tell are the stories that just rip your heart out.”

Story- Post Hurricane Katrina documentary- touring a FEMA trainer in rural Miss., asks a 6 year old girl where she sleeps. Girl points to kitchen shelf. “That revelation made us shift our entire story. That tells you everything that’s wrong with the rescue efforts. That’s the moment you’re looking for, versus, There’s widespread destruction in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. That’s the story from 35,000 feet. The problem today is that were pitched the stat, but were not pitched the person.”

It’s important to note that this is the opinion of one reporter and is not one-size fits all. For me, the lesson is that when possible, personalizing statistics helps bring the story to life. Something to keep in mind next time.