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Take advantage of a slow news day

Thursday, 13 December 2012 | By Taskmaster

taskmasterWell, the non-ratings season is upon us. You can tell by the fact that any TV not tuned to the cricket is endlessly showing infomercials thinly disguised as “home repairs shows” or the repeats of “gritty” Australian dramas that are so brilliant that no one bothered watching a decade ago.

 

In other words, it’s just like daytime TV, except you get to watch it in prime time.

 

Meanwhile newspaper newsrooms, already decorated with tinsel and tumbleweeds after their last round of retrenchments, are further emptied as key staff take a summer break.

 

Now picture a journalist or news editor, sitting behind her or his desk, surrounded by the caskets of long-forgotten Chinese take away meals. They’re responsible for putting together a newspaper covering a village in which nothing happened.

 

It’s Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day or a stinking hot day during the weeks either side – especially a Sunday. They would rather be somewhere else. The deadline for the 6pm news bulletin or daily newspaper rapidly approaches. There are still blank slots to fill.

 

The big business announcements were either already made in the lead-up to Christmas or are being planned for next year. The pollies have left Canberra for the year and are busy on holidays creating next year’s slush fund scandals with your tax dollars. Even the regular “speculation experts” are away in Tahiti.

 

At this point, the editor says the magic words that have launched so many “ kitty-up-a-tree” stories over the years: “F-ck it.”

 

This is where you come in, boss.

 

You’re going to organise a stunt that can run on a slow news day over the Christmas/New Year period. Something that can pad out a newspaper or TV bulletin on a slow news day over summer.

 

Give a 10% discount to anyone who comes into your bakery wearing a superhero costume or organise your staff, friends and colleagues to picket the offices of your fiercest competitors. Something outlandish and bizarre like that.

 

Issue press releases in the lead up to, on the day of, and the day after your stunt. Make sure it is already written in the style of the publication you’re pitching to. Take plenty of high quality (SLR camera) photos in both portrait and landscape. Also hire a professional cameraperson to shoot footage of the event. Do all these things for each of your press releases.

 

Since we’re in the age of social media, make sure you put your stunt on Facebook and Twitter too.

 

Send your press release through by email. It’s a well-known fact that journos hate unsolicited phone calls from PR reps with a passion. (As an aside, if you’re on the lookout for a PR agency, ask if they make unsolicited phone calls to journalists. If they admit they do, don’t walk, run!)

 

Sure, you mightn’t have the time to organise the shipping of a fibreglass iceberg like a young Dick Smith or replicate some of Richard Branson’s more elaborate stunts, but there is plenty of time over the summer break to score yourself some extra publicity.

 

Get it done – over summer!