Monday, May 4, 2015

A good story never dies

A professional organization had news to share: one of its members had recently earned a U.S. patent for a breakthrough, and they asked a PR practitioner to help publicize the patent.

The response? "Oh, we did that story five years ago. Maybe we can just write a blog post."

Diego Grez [CC BY-SA 3.0 (
/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
True, the inventor had applied for a patent more than five years ago. It wasn't exactly a new story. Patents often take years between filing and approval.

But the PR person's dismissive reply neglects a few of today's realities. There wasn't a vast social media universe to sell that story, five years ago. There wasn't the intense industry focus on this particular technology that exists today. 

And many of the people who could take advantage of the new technology were still undergraduates. And today's journalists who'd cover the story might find it all-new.

The news editors I'd worked for had a three-year rule. If we'd reported on a local artist, inventor, boat builder, etc., within  the last three years, we couldn't write about the subject again. Longer than three years? It was OK to revisit the person and his or her work.

My point? The breakthrough story was only "old" to the PR person -- who might have wanted to move on to newer material. But it could be very new to readers and reporters who'd never worked in that particular market.

And, as the movie business has learned, audiences seem to love a sequel.

Sometimes, it helps to look at a story with fresh eyes, and consider the potential to reach new readers.