The single-best place to find the single-best headlines in addition to feel-good PR stories is the bottom feature story on the front page of the Wall Street Journal.
Within these pieces are sensational and zany stories about topics you can’t imagine. Today’s story is one of the best feel-good features I’ve seen there in awhile as it melds the rough and tough U.S. Marine Corps with the desert tortoise.
Yes, our nation’s military dual as conservationists. Hard to believe, eh?
On a training exercise in the deserts of California, in Twentynine Palms to be exact, the troops were charging a hill and shooting at targets until one of the softer-hearted screamed “tortoise alert!” (Those last four words are speculation.)
The exercise ceased and the turtle doctor was called to the scene; he’s part of “a little-known army of biologists and other scientists who manage the Mojave desert tortoise and about 420 other threatened and endangered species on about 28 million acres of federally managed military land.”
When the tortoises are scared, they pee themselves. I’m only telling you that so I can use this word I’ve never seen from the story…”an unplanned micturition can cause dehydration and even death.” (The best explanation for that is the turtle wets the bed, and BTW? My spell check did not like that word.)
So, the biologist shows the Marines how to soak the reptiles in water until they drink enough to carry on. Apparently, these desert dwellers don’t need a drink for about two years, and when they dribble from fear, their supply of water is exhausted.
Elements of a Good PR Story
Let’s look at why this story works for national news:
- Endangered species protected on federal reserves
- A team of biologists functioning within the military under a bit of secret cover
- The Marine Corps doing drills in the Mojave desert
- The Marine Corp as conservationists; ceasing all ops until the tortoise families are safely moved to distances away from training sites.
- Background about the reptile and its habits (the water factoids)
And, that really good headline tops it off, “The Few, the Proud, the Tortoises: Marines Protect Endangered Species; An Army of Biologists Are on Nature Patrol at Military Bases; ‘Walking Ravioli’
Your Good PR Story
Considering trying for national news with a good media relations professional? Here are some elements you can’t be without:
- Hard news with a soft news twist
- Current events angle; news that ties in with world affairs
- Data: could be new research, patterns of behavior
- Third-party Spokesperson: academic, scientist or other expert to vouch for the data
- Consumer: Person who receives the service, uses the product with a good story
- Company executive: Someone with the Message Map in hand who can present the company in proper light
The final item on your list is to have a professional pitch this to national media. It will be a huge challenge if you try to do it yourself.