Porch Light - PR, Media Relations, MarketingPorch Light - PR, Media Relations, Marketing
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by Shannon Samson




Three things impressed me last week: a clever idea, a client’s confidence and because it was 4/20 on one of those days, I will add cannabis to the list. Also, because any talk of marijuana gets people’s attention.

Let’s start with cleverness. Just when I thought I’d heard all the good ideas, my colleague/boss Jennifer Chan told me she was trying to get media placements for our client Eskew Law, LLC. She looked at the calendar and rightly surmised that National Weed Day was going to be a big deal, more so this year than usual since four states have legalized marijuana and other states may soon follow. Jennifer pitched to a TV station the availability of a legal expert willing to talk about the possibility of legalizing marijuana in Indiana. One station bit and together, the illustrious reporter (my friend) Jessica Hayes and the brilliant attorney (our client) Chris Eskew made TV magic that you can enjoy again and again here.


420 image


Here’s what I liked about it. Both Jennifer, as an agent of our public relations firm, and Chris, as the face of his legal firm, didn’t shy away from the topic of marijuana even though it’s divisive. One of the biggest frustrations I had back when I was a TV news reporter was contacts who shied away from being involved in stories for fear of looking bad. Granted, in some cases, it made perfect sense for them to steer clear, but many times, in my opinion, the exposure would have been good for them. Yet, they feared being associated with something even slightly edgy would forever link them to controversy. Nonsense, I say.

When I was a reporter in Evansville, for instance, I had a short list of go-to people I would call all the time. They were fearless. They would talk about nearly ANYTHING. One was a clinical psychologist who wanted to grow her client base. Once, I called her because I wanted to do a tie-in story to the then-popular NBC reality game show Fear Factor that often made contestants dive into snake pits or eat cockroaches. Would she be willing to take a few questions about fear exposure therapy? That’s the idea that submerging yourself into what you fear will cure you of that phobia. This is not something the doctor dealt with in her practice every day, but she recognized this as a good opportunity to get her face out there, so she agreed to do a little research on the topic and be interviewed for my story. Another time, I’d read about a new study that analyzed how much bacteria is exchanged between two people when they open-mouth kiss. I thought that would be an interestingly provocative story for Valentine’s Day. I called up a local dentist who’d pitched some more conventional story ideas to me in the past. While it wasn’t his first choice of topics, he was willing to talk about mouth germs on TV. In both cases, the stories were unique enough to garner some above-average attention from viewers. By extension, the psychologist and the dentist were toasty warm in the spotlight, at least for a little while.

So, here’s my advice to PR people: pitch the clever and racy ideas. Media folks like clever and racy. When an idea is different from the norm, it becomes news. As for clients, say yes to more media interviews. No reporter will ever come to you and ask to do a piece on what makes your business great. That’s a commercial. They may come to you thinking you have some insight into a subject that’s new and exciting. That’s a compliment. Take it. It doesn’t mean you’re the definitive resource on the topic. It just means you might have something to say about it that’s worth listening to. It means you’re smart. And that’s good PR on National Weed Day or any day of the year.

About Shannon
Shannon Samson had a very long career in TV news before becoming Porch Light's newest employee. She is an active member of improv comedy troupe Indyprov and lives on the city's Near Eastside with her celebrity lookalike dog, Matt Damon.

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