Judging Media Pitches: 1. Who Cares? 2. Is There Good Art?

By Darcy Sawatzki

October 29, 2019

October 29, 2019 – I moderated a panel on today’s changing media landscape at the Leading Age national meeting. Reflecting the real-world ratio of flacks to hacks, I was one of four PR people discussing the topic along with one lone reporter on the panel. God bless Paul Sisson, healthcare reporter at San Diego Union-Tribune. He held his own, and gave us the pithiest, most true answer to “what makes a story a good news story?”

  • Who cares? Is there an audience for this story? Will my readers care about it? Will they learn something? Will they want to share it with somebody? Will it connect to their lives in some way? Will it be new and interesting to them?
  • Is there good art? Even for print media, a captivating image can sell the story… or as Paul said, “help get it on the front page.” Focus on getting images of powerful human connections, ones that convey emotion.

These guiding questions joined the “tried but true” tenets of successful media relations: building meaningful relationships with reporters; creating a news-minded organization (e.g., having trained spokespeople who can respond quickly); and knowing what kind of content works best in paid, earned, shared or owned media. We also discussed ways to stretch a small (or nonexistent) public relations budget, and leverage coverage through our own social media and email channels. Fellow panelists Pam Sullivan, Brandi Towns and Kim Lehman all shared inspiring examples of how they have navigated the changing media landscape to tell important stories about seniors and aging services.

One important story we are helping tell at Evoke KYNE is about how seniors with Alzheimer’s are benefiting from the comedy care provided by Laughter On Call. Based on her own experience with her mother’s Alzheimer’s, founder Dani Klein Modisett is training comedians to provide care and companionship for seniors with dementia… and bringing courage and laughter to an arena where they are desperately needed.

But does the story pass Paul’s test?

  • Who cares? The millions of families who feel helpless when a loved one succumbs to Alzheimer’s and all of us who are inspired by unique ways to tackle tough problems.
  • Good art? YES! Just check out these recent stories about Laughter On Call for proof.

Thank you to Leading Age for bringing us all together to share best practices, make connections and elevate our work so that we can make a difference in the lives of seniors across the country. Onward!