A local friend who I thought had a bit of nous said something this week that surprised me.
He was upset that the media had not picked up any of the really good news coming out of Whanganui over Vintage Weekend and celebrations around the 25th Anniversary of The New Zealand Opera School.
But, as per usual, the media picked up on the tragedy of the deadly stabbing on Liverpool St.

Yes, the media covering a homicide makes front page news. And just because you are hosting a festival does not mean that the media will cover it.

There is an old adage that "Advertising sells and PR tells". I get this since I have been doing PR for more than 25 years all over New Zealand and in New York City. If you believe you have a really good story that this region and further afield should know about, test it before you pitch it to the media.

By that I mean, if you think that just because you have dozens of old cars lining a main street and the media will come, they will not. But, if the oldest car in New Zealand has just been discovered in a shed in Aramoho that has not been seen in 50 years and restored to its original glory, the media may take notice.

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And, it's also all about timing. Calling TVNZ at 3pm for a story you think should appear that night will just not cut it, unless, of course, it is a homicide or natural disaster. Timing is also significant when you are working with monthly glossy magazines since they are now working on finalising April's edition. If these events were to appear in North & South, then the editor should have been sent interesting information with stunning images in June to get them thinking about December's issue. And then you have to follow up regularly and maybe even invite the editor to Whanganui to meet with interesting people who are part of the events to understand that significant activities occurring in this region are good news, generating a positive impact financially, socially and culturally.

I believe that Vintage Weekend and the Opera School anniversary should have made the nightly news, the Dom Post and even the Manawatu Standard! But if worthy stories were not presented to the media as exclusive, compelling or visually unique in a timely fashion, they will not know about these events to be able to cover them.

This sad reality is what I have been dealing with for decades. I had a client years ago became so excited with what they thought was a front page news story about changing the shape of a soft drink bottle. That is not news. If they were changing the shape to save the planet or it was designed by the grandchild of the original designer, then maybe, just maybe that would make a story. Not front page though.

Three years ago, I did a presentation at UCOL for Whanganui + Partners about "Putting Whanganui on the Map". It was all about third party endorsements, inviting social media personalities to events and giving the media worthy stories to write. More recently I presented the idea that I would invite the travel editor of the largest circulated daily paper to Whanganui since he is a friend of mine, to no avail.

What do you believe are worthy stories about Whanganui that the rest of New Zealand and even the world should know about? Email me at kathy@empirepr.co.nz and I will take the best idea, test it with local media and pitch it to the most appropriate media as a pro bono project!