As a PR company, we often come across potential clients who want to get their latest ‘tea party’ exposure in the Guardian or their fantastic growth figures into the Financial Times. Part of our job is to manage expectations but another large part of what we do is about listening to people who work within a company, the people who are the grass roots of an organisation (very rarely do the great stories come directly from the CEO) to try and find those golden nugget stories – the stories that might not seem like much to those who are exposed to them everyday. It’s up to us to find them, write them and push them out to the right people.
A story that has hit the headlines this week and gone global is a great example of this...
When Walter Carr, a student from Alabama in the USA decided to walk 20 miles to work after his car broke down, he could never have imagined, as he was taking step after step, the media storm what would follow. His sheer determination on that day has made him famous. His boss was so impressed that he bought him a car – incredible PR idea! His ‘return’ act of kindness has also seen exposure for his company on a scale that most people can normally only dream of…that £10,000 car was a genius idea and I hope that Luke Marklin (CEO of Bellhops) came up with the idea, but if it did come from their PR company then I take my hat off to them.
In our experience, kindness sells…people love to hear about good in the world and some of our biggest stories have come from little nuggets of information that we’ve had to carefully extract. Having access to people working within the heart of an organisation is so valuable yet we find many companies can be quite guarded about it. Nobody can make a great story from thin air and while there is a place for tea party news and financial figures, what people really want to read about is real life.
One of the first stories that went viral for us as a PR company was a home care company who had been struggling to get care workers out to vulnerable elderly people in freezing, remote conditions. Some of the people needed urgent medication, others couldn’t get out of bed to go to the toilet without help not to mention being able to light a fire or put the heating on. As I was speaking to the home care manager, who’d been at work since 4 am, she just happened to mention that two of her carers had trekked for 10 miles to reach service users because there was no other way of getting to them:
This story was one of the first of its kind to be heavily featured and reached The Daily Mail, The Express and the BBC, not to mention the numerous internet sites and local publications who picked it up.
Other, more recent examples came about in exactly the same way. Our Account Manager Natasha happened to pick up on a conversation about a mother and son who had moved into the same care home. That story ended up being seen by millions of people around the world:
And just this month, we heard an incredible story about a little boy who brought joy back into the world of a man in his 90’s. Staff at Acorn House Care Home were getting concerned about a resident who was withdrawn and rarely left his room until a four year old started to visit and subsequently changed his life. One of our Account Managers picked up on the story and so far, it’s been shared locally around 250 times and appeared on BBC news:
Great stories that you might not always recognise as media worthy often make the very best news as people love to hear about human kindness and therein lies one of the biggest differences in advertising and PR – these stories can’t be made up, they’re straight from the heart and the media love them because they sell their papers and get lots of internet shares.