The pen(cil) is mightier than the fraud

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Journalism is still – even in this era – a glamour profession. Journalists are proud to be journalists – they have a professional ego and are slow to concede the full truth about why some stories are run while others are ignored.

Journalists love to tell you that stories get run on their merit and that they are always looking for a new angle and substantive issue. Some are, some of the time but most are trying against the odds and the clock to fill the space they have to fill.

They never reveal how malleable they are, pretending that they are quality controllers, tough nuts and cynical dudes able to see through our flimsy PR ploys. Yet day after day we see their stores – graduation day at the Police canine college (Squiggle loves that one) the unveiling of the Christmas windows, the rush of bargain-hunters at the Boxing Day sales et al. These are picture-driven stories which fill a lot of space, and make a lot of publicists happy. 

No matter how unvisual your story make it more visual before you pitch the idea to media. Create a crowd of supporters for your launch, hold it in front of a symbolic location, release some balloons, cut a giant cake, offer video of last year’s 24 hour dance-a-thon, letters of thanks or desperation* from a parent you assisted, archival photographs from the days of institutions for the people you now help in the community. You get our drift. Think visual, no matter what the story. 

Like feeding the chooks. But with pencils. And journalists.

This bollocks on the left was run for no other reason but the visuals. It’s the suave head of pencil maker Faber Castell Count Anton Wolfgang von Faber-Castell recreating a PR stunt one of his forefathers created. The Count is throwing to the ground 500 of his pencils from the tower of his own castle (yes, his own) to demonstrate their strength. None do and the media eat it up. The fawning stories this created were numerous and non-threatening. Among the many hits were articles on two of the world top 11 news websites: CNN and MailOnline. 

pr training

There. Up in the sky. Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No just a photo opp.

We guarantee that few journalists would acknowledge that such a transparent, pointless, angle-less, fraudulent, self-promotional idea could get past their editorial gatekeeping. Publicists: 15. Media: Love.  

Learn how to get more media coverage at Media Savvy 101.

*Yes, of course with permission. Duh. 


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