Working as a journalist for about 20 years, I learned that the best way to avoid getting assigned a lame story idea was to have a long list of cool stories I was already developing.
"Hey, Mike, I really wish I could take on that macrame conference story assignment," I might say, "but I'm already working on a slew of Page 1 candidates. Investigative stuff that'll knock your socks off. I'll send you an e-mail summary later today."
If you're a publicist, and you dread the specter of being associated with a lame news release, the same antidote applies: simply come up with a kick-butt story idea that you're eager to share with the media. Then, far from being sheepish in pitching the story to reporters, you'll be eager to get on the phone and shoot out those e-mails.
Of course, terrific story ideas don't always come to mind so simply. You need to devote time to thinking through the angle, and then exploring how you can develop it to the point of a media outreach.
One current idea that is on my mind is the closure of 600 Starbucks across the country. What can I do to parlay that business setback into a positive for one of my clients?
One obvious prospect is XS Energy Drinks, which provides a more healthful (no carbs, no sugar, loads of B vitamins), great-tasting alternative to expensive coffee. XS is the top-selling e-tail energy drink on the market and does about $150 million in North American sales annually, #6 in the energy drink category overall.
Because it's not sold in stores, it's easily the most successful energy drink you've quite likely never heard of.
At the same time, XS has a mission similar to Starbucks: provide folks with an energy boost, in a cool, lifestyle-enriching way.
Even better than developing a news hook for XS, is there a way to capitalize on Starbucks' struggle for at least one additional client? Absolutely--it's just a matter of time before identifying, then pursuing, those hooks.
Stay tuned and check out future blog posts as I delve into this matter further.